Forming Catholic Minds & Building Catholic Society

Forming Catholic Minds & Building Catholic Society

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On June 8th-11th, the Benedict XVI Institute hosted its fourth Faith and Reason Seminar, which brings Catholic leaders from all over Western Canada (and beyond!) together for a weekend of faith-filled intellectual growth and networking with others who are making a positive difference in our world. Although the event is invite-only, our internship team was given the opportunity to attend the first day of sessions, both for the experience and to lend a hand where needed.

The seminar follows a pattern of Socratic-style discussions on a series of set texts, so participants must read the books before arriving. Thus, Dr. Ryan Topping, Director pf the Benedict XVI Institute, arrived in our office one day about two weeks before the seminar to deliver a massive stack of books for us to peruse. My excitement was certainly visible as I investigated my new agenda of study, and my co-worker, Claire, was clearly feeling the same elation. So, imagine our excitement then when Dr. Topping asked us both if we would like to attend the entire weekend! We quickly agreed and began working our way through the stacks of books. The specific theme for this year’s seminar was ‘Vocation,’ so all of our texts related in some way to this theme. From Sophocles to Shakespeare, Genesis to Vatican II, the seminar texts encompassed a variety of time periods, styles, and viewpoints. Anticipation built as we immersed ourselves in these great books.

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            Coming into the actual weekend of the seminar, our whole internship team, but especially Claire and I (Casey), were looking forward with great excitement. As we were busy preparing by designing charcuterie boards and setting up chairs, I was repeatedly stuck by the scale of the event and was filled with gratitude that such an event takes place right here in Edmonton.

Friday morning began with sessions on Oedipus Rex by Sophocles and the book of Genesis, during which we explored two very different versions of what it means ‘to be called.’ In the afternoon sessions, we discussed works like Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and The World The Flesh and Father Smith by Bruce Marshall. These focussed on what it might look like to live out one’s vocation in the real world, giving perspectives from both married and priestly life. Friday concluded with a seminar on the problem of Wokeism, during which everyone discussed the movement’s origins and the methods we had experienced that could help combat its destruction of society. 

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            As I heard these great Catholic leaders from all over the country discussing real and practical actions they are taking to restore our culture, I was filled with great hope for the coming years. These people were not simply complaining or even theorizing potential solutions but rather were creating concrete plans with measurable and observable results. My first experience at the Faith and Reason Seminar has shown me that the coming generations will have a strong Catholic societal structure on which to rely because of the work put in by these cultural leaders of the Catholic Church.


Article written by: Casey Lefebvre, BXVI Intern and 2nd year Bachelor of Arts student at Newman Theological College

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