Spirit and intellect intertwined, Sterritt tells Catholic group
At a well-attended breakfast gathering in the Pomerleau Alumni Center on Wednesday, October 10, Saint Michael’s College President Lorraine Sterritt told the Vermont Catholic Professionals — a new group initiated by Burlington Diocese that held its kick-off quarterly networking meeting on campus — about ways her Catholic faith has impacted her professional life in education.
“Intellectual life is intimately bound up with spiritual life,” said President Sterritt, the morning’s invited speaker, to an assembly that included Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne. Sterritt told a charming tale of her earliest school experiences in Ireland at the young age of four, and how she gradually evolved from the sandbox to love of learning because of her father’s love for it — eventually growing into “the possibility that I might help others to acquire an education in their turn.”
A dedicated serious scholar of languages, the president broke down the meanings of Greek words behind the English words “disciple” and “apostle” to shed useful light on the inextricable place of education and learning in those two roles, both originally and today. She described how medieval universities arose to enable Catholic clergy “to impart knowledge that was both intellectually enlightening and spiritually nourishing” so their listeners might grow “in both intellectual understanding and spiritual well-being” in a time with few other educational opportunities.
“Today Catholic institutions of higher learning have an obligation to encourage members of their communities to reflect on spirituality and to turn faith in action in the form of service,” she said, giving examples of how that happens at Saint Michael’s through the MOVE program of Edmundite Campus Ministry and other programs. “Service has been the guiding principal of my life in higher education,” she said, echoing the theme of her September 22 Inaugural Address with a speech that once more revealed her appreciation for the Edmundites and their “charism” or “special calling” to help others acquire good education and use it in service to society.
The stated mission of Vermont Catholic Professionals, according to the Diocese’s website, is “to join Catholic men and women and those with shared values from the business and professional communities to encourage intellectual discussions, to foster professional and faith-based relationships and to inspire service and charity to the community in Vermont.”
Bishop Coyne offered brief remarks and an opening prayer at Wednesday morning’s meeting as well.