The Harmonic Beauty of Faith
Monday evenings are the highlight of the week for David Meconi, S.J., Lic. Theol., D.Phil.
The associate professor of historical theology looks forward to seeing as many as 70 students gather at the new Catholic Studies Centre (CSC) to celebrate Mass, share a home-cooked meal and listen to a lecture on an area of Catholic thought. Topics range from Shakespeare to politics to the depiction of love in art.
These Edmund Campion Society meetings, as they’re called, were held in Jesuit Hall for 20 years, but student attendance increased significantly when the meetings moved last fall to the CSC, located in the former Marion Rumsey-Cartier Hall on the West Pine Mall.
Interest has been so great in the Monday meetings that students began holding Eucharistic adoration on Thursdays during which they pray in silence for one-hour shifts throughout the night. The adorations began a couple of weeks ago and more than 30 students participated each night.
“The fact that we have students willing to get up at 3 a.m. and pray tells me they’re hungry for community and a real sense of the Divine,” said Meconi, director of the CSC. “It’s incredible.”
The CSC students also helped gather Christmas presents for disadvantaged children, visit nursing homes and routinely gather to pray the rosary for other social needs.
Heaven and Earth
The CSC officially opened with a blessing by St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson in September 2016. The three-story building houses four once disparate disciplines: the Catholic Studies Program, the College of Philosophy and Letters, the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and office space for Patrick Yeung, M.D., a SLUCare OB/GYN and a specialist with the SLUCare Restorative Fertility Clinic at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital.
“Many of our students are interested in pre-med and nursing studies, so I was looking for a way to represent what I think is the harmonic beauty of the Catholic faith – body, soul, faith, reason, heaven and earth,” Meconi said. “We hope that such a robust collection of perspectives will not only provide direct service to our students but also will bring others into this great conversation.”
Meconi said the interdisciplinary center gives prominence to what he said have been underrepresented voices on campus.
“We assumed that because the University was founded in the Catholic tradition that we were taking good care of our Catholic students, but that wasn’t always the case,” he said. “There’s a lot of great energy, out there and students want a little more transcendence, a little more community. They want solid Christian teaching and a safe environment where they can be both challenged and comforted.”
To create programming, Meconi works closely with all departments on campus, as well as with the medical and law schools. The center hosts an Adult Education Lecture Series, an annual Hippocratic Oath Ceremony, Saturday symposia on “Morals and the Marketplace” and natural family planning nights for engaged couples and interested students. The CSC holds a vocation fair in the fall.