The John Paul II Institute: Articulating and Sharing the Church’s Uplifting Vision of the Human PersonBy
I wrote last week about the importance of supporting the Church’s institutional presence.
To paraphrase Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York (and others), the institutional Church reveals the incarnated aspect of our faith: we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, the Body of Christ in the world today.
One such institution that is vital in today’s culture is the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family (located right by the National Shrine at the Catholic University of America campus in Washington, DC).
Here is how the Institute introduces itself:
The Pontifical John Paul II Institute is devoted to the study of this truth about the human person in all of its dimensions: theological, philosophical, anthropological, and indeed cosmological-scientific. The Institute centers its study of the person in the community that is the original cell of human society: marriage and family. [Read the full mission statement here.]
I benefited immensely from examining Bl. Pope John Paul II’s articulation of the Church’s teaching on marriage and family when I studied for a semester at the International Theological Institute in Austria. Rigorous training in these fields has been a huge aid in my work to defend the legal and cultural understanding of family founded upon the lifelong marriage of husband and wife.
I say often, but I do not write it often enough in print, that we need sound Catholic institutions to support the dignity of the human person. We need, for instance, good Catholic psychologists (educated at the Institute for Psychological Sciences). We need good Catholic doctors, nurses, economists, teachers and professors. And, through the JPII Institute in Washington, DC, we need good communicators and teachers of the Church’s uplifting vision of the human person and of human sexuality, marriage and family.
I was privileged during the two years I spent studying theology at the Dominican House of Studies (across the street from CUA) to know several of the students at JPII. You couldn’t meet young Catholics more intelligent, kind and happy, and more eager to counter the diminished view of the human person pervasive in our culture with the uplifting vision of the Church as expounded by Bl. John Paul II.
I expect great things from these graduates as they take on positions as teachers, directors of religious education, writers and other careers, knowing that no matter what they do (and often because of what they do), they will be shining witnesses and articulators of an authentic Catholic vision of the human person, something our society and culture desperately need these days.
The JPII Institute recently received full accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and was honored with a special address from Pope Benedict on their 30th anniversary of founding. The Knights of Columbus generously gave an $8 million grant in 2006 to help provide and furnish the facilities they now occupy (talk about providing tangible help!). I’ve shared many a happy lunch in their student lounge back in the day.
I’m also particularly excited about their new Center for Cultural and Pastoral Research.
They are accepting applications for next Fall now so I encourage you to check-out their programs of study. They offer masters degrees in Marriage and Family, Bioethics and Ethics, as well as a Licentiate and Doctorate (STL and STD — pontifical degrees) in the Sacred Theology of Marriage and Family as well as a PhD with a specialization in Person, Marriage and Family (a doctorate in theology more aligned with the American system of education). As you can see, they offer many avenues of study in these fields and graduates are well-prepared for academic careers in teaching, research and writing.
I should also mention that studying in Washington, DC on the CUA campus affords you amazing opportunities for Catholic educational resources and a vibrant Catholic culture here in the nation’s capital.
Bottom line: if you feel called to study the Church’s tradition on any of these topics, you’d be well served to look into the JPII Institute!