Archive of April 5, 2008

Christendom Graduate School to Launch Montessori and Catholic Culture Programs

Front Royal, Va., Apr 5, 2008 (CNA) - The Notre Dame Graduate School (NDGS) of Christendom College plans to launch two new programs this summer: Montessori Catechesis and a series of humanities courses on Catholic culture. Both programs intend to develop into new concentrations for the M.A. degree.

NDGS is working in conjunction with the Montessori Catechetical and Cultural Institute (MCCI) to provide courses and training in Montessori Catechesis.  There will be four courses in the series, and NDGS plans to offer one each semester on a two-year cycle. The first course presents Maria Montessori’s educational and catechetical theory, and includes her research into child development and learning which confirms the Catholic and Thomistic notion of the human person. The other three courses will be training courses in the Montessori Catechesis, one course for each of the three levels.

Catholic religious education was initially an integral part of Maria Montessori’s educational program, but it was dropped from the curriculum when secular Montessori schools were established, especially in the US.  This program is part of a revival of this catechesis, which is growing in popularity, especially as a parish religious education alternative.

“Catholic catechesis in the US is often based on the behaviorism of John Dewey, not on a Catholic notion of the human person,” said NDGS Dean Dr. Kristin Burns.  “We may teach that man is an embodied spirit, but the educational method we use is based on a philosophy that denies this integral unity and spirituality of man. With Maria Montessori we have a method that matches the content and the truth about the human person.”
The other new program is a series of six courses on Catholic culture.  Each course focuses on an historical period and aims to understand Christianity’s influence on the culture.  The first two courses, The Culture of Classical Antiquity and The Culture of the Early Middle Ages, will be offered this summer at the Alexandria campus.  Future courses will study the late middle ages, the Renaissance, the revolutionary period, and modernity.  The graduate school plans to offer two of these courses every summer.

The courses will be interdisciplinary seminars in which students will read and discuss original sources across the fields of literature, history, science, and philosophy. The undergraduate curriculum at Christendom is noted for its integrated, humanities approach. Professors often have degrees in multiple fields and courses are not taught strictly within one discipline but rather often combine knowledge from other fields.  The aim of the Catholic culture series is to bring this same integrated humanities approach to graduate studies.  Many people with degrees in narrow technical fields such as business, engineering, computer, or natural sciences are looking for a more comprehensive liberal arts program for their graduate studies.

This new program in Catholic culture should be popular with elementary and high school teachers looking for a Catholic foundation for their secular knowledge of history, literature, science, or social studies. Teachers need to take certification courses anyway, and if they are teaching in a Catholic school they might be especially interested in courses that focus on Christianity’s contributions to literature, history, science or philosophy.

“These courses in Catholic culture will be taught by Drs. Chris Shannon, Thomas Stanford, and Greg Townsend, professors from Christendom’s undergraduate Front Royal campus,” Burns said. “Between them, they have nine post-graduate degrees in fields as varied as theology, physics, humanities, English literature, and American studies.

“Where else can you take courses like these with a faculty of this caliber? This new program is a superb opportunity for the grad school to mine the riches of the Front Royal faculty, and for students from the metro DC area to benefit from it.”

Printed with permission from Christendom College.

back to top

Pope Benedict to visit with Jewish leaders in New York City and D.C.

Washington D.C., Apr 5, 2008 (CNA) - During his April visit to the United States Pope Benedict XVI will visit a New York synagogue led by a rabbi who survived the Holocaust, CBS News reports.


Benedict XVI’s visit will be his second visit to a synagogue since becoming Pope.


The Holy Father will make a 20 minute stop on April 18 at East Park Synagogue, a modern Orthodox congregation founded in 1888. 


"By this personal and informal visit, which is not part of his official program, His Holiness wishes to express his good will toward the local Jewish community as they prepare for Passover," said Monsignor David Malloy, general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Passover begins at sundown on April 19.


According to CBS News, the East Park Synagogue is led by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, 78, who lived under Nazi occupation in Budapest.  He emigrated to the United States in 1947, and has led the synagogue since 1962.  Rabbi Shneier, an advocate of religious freedom worldwide, founded the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an organization which promotes interfaith tolerance.  He is also a recipient of the 2001 U.S. Presidential Citizens Medal for service to the nation.


The 80-year-old Pope Benedict is a native of Germany whose father was an anti-Nazi.  As a teenager, the Pope was enrolled in the Hitler Youth against his will.  He was drafted into the German army in the final months of World War II, and according to his memoirs, he deserted in the war’s last days.


Pope Benedict has been engaged in outreach to Jews, following the example of his predecessor Pope John Paul II.  Some tensions resulted after the Pope’s revival of the Latin rite because the old rite included Good Friday prayers with passages demeaning towards Jews. 


The Pope revised the prayer to address Jewish concerns, though some Jewish leaders remained unsatisfied with the changes.


The East Park Synagogue is located near the United Nations, which the Pope will address on the morning of April 18.


The Pope has also scheduled a meeting in Washington with Jewish leaders and representatives of other faiths on April 17.

back to top

Pope’s visit a chance to see American Catholic “treasures”

Washington D.C., Apr 5, 2008 (CNA) - The Canadian Press has published an outline of historic Catholic locations in New York City and Washington, D.C. to provide background for Pope Benedict XVI’s April visit.

One of the most prominent Catholic buildings is St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a gothic-style church near Rockefeller Center, is the central church of the Archdiocese of New York.  Its bronze doors bear the carved images of New Yorkers who have been canonized.  Its website is at

St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the successor to Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the Little Italy neighborhood.  The building was completed in 1815, and old tombstones fill its nearby graveyard.

According to the Canadian Press, New York City’s oldest Catholic church, St. Peter’s, dates back to 1785 when there were only 200 Catholics and one priest in the city.  It is located one block from the site of the World Trade Center.

“This church was damaged by parts of the plane on 9/11, and is the church where they brought the body of Father (Mychal) Judge," said Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling, according to the Canadian Press.  Father Judge was killed by falling debris while ministering to those at the World Trade Center the day of the attack.  A cross-shaped piece of debris from Ground Zero, the ruins of the destroyed World Trade Center, stand outside the church.

St. Elizabeth Bayley Seton, the first canonized saint born in the United States, converted to Catholicism at St. Peter’s in 1805.  A widow with five children, she founded both the U.S. order of the Sisters of Charity and the nation’s first parochial school.  Canonized in 1975, her former living address on State Street is now the home of Our Lady of the Rosary Church, which houses the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine.

The first American to be canonized was Frances Xavier Cabrini, an Italian immigrant whose remains are preserved at St. Frances Cabrini shrine in New York City.  Devotees visit to pray for healing and other intercessions.  As a patroness of immigrants, some ask St. Frances Cabrini for help obtaining green cards.  The shrine’s website is at

Other Catholic sites include The Cloisters, an art house containing illuminated manuscripts, saints’ relics, paintings, and the famous Unicorn Tapestries.  St. Malachy’s Church, known as the “Actor’s Chapel,” has an 11 pm Saturday Mass that attracts theatergoers and cast members from Broadway shows. 

Pope Benedict will meet with Protestant and Orthodox Christian leaders at New York City’s St. Joseph’s Church, historically a German-speaking church.

The Canadian Press also noted the influential Catholics who lived in New York City, including writer Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement.  A “hospitality house” she lived in still provides services to the poor in the area.  The Catholic Worker maintains a website at

Notable Catholic sites in the Washington, D.C. area include St. Clement’s Island State Park, where the first Mass in English-speaking America was celebrated in 1634.  Nearby is the Newtown parish, which dates to 1640, and the St. Ignatius Church which was built in 1798 but includes an older chapel from the 1600s.   The church has a website at

The city of Washington includes the Basilica Shrine of the National Conception,  One of the largest churches in the world, the basilica’s chapels include different representations of Mary from cultures around the world.  It is adjacent to Catholic University of America.

The city’s Cathedral of Matthew the Apostle was the site of the funeral of assassinated president John F. Kennedy.  It is the location where the famous photograph of John Kennedy, Jr. saluting his father’s casket was taken. 

An annual Mass is held at the cathedral the Sunday before the opening session of the United States Supreme Court "to pray for the justices and others in the administration of justice," according to Archdiocese of Washington spokeswoman Susan Gibbs.  The cathedral’s website is at

Washington’s St. Augustine Church, founded by emancipated black Catholics 150 years ago, is known for its gospel choir.  Its website is at

According to the Canadian Press, Gibbs said that the Franciscan Monastery in Washington “is one of the hidden treasures of Washington and is particularly beautiful in the spring.”  It contains replicas of the shrines of the Holy Land and offers free tours.  See

Gibbs said that Catholics depicted in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection include Bl. Junipero Serra, the missionary priest in California who has been beatified; Esther Pariseau, known as Mother Joseph, a pioneer missionary in the 1800s who founded schools and hospitals in the American Northwest; and Joseph Damien de Veuster, “Father Damien,” a priest who cared for lepers in 19th century Hawaii and was later canonized.

back to top

Follow us:

Recent activity: