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Spiritual Vacation

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September 18, 2017

The beginning of the fall semester is anything but restful for most of the students and faculty at the School of Theology. For others, it’s a different story. The changing leaves and first snowfall of the year provide the perfect backdrop for visiting ministers and scholars who attend the school on their sabbatical. The campus visitors use their time here to rest, take classes and achieve spiritual renewal.

Sabbaticals at Saint John’s take many forms. School of Theology sabbatical students take at least two graduate-level classes, but they get to choose whether they want to take them for credit. The rest is up to them. Past visitors took advantage of the artistic and recreational opportunities on campus, and others used the time to work on books or research.

This semester, one visitor to our campus is looking forward to everything that Saint John’s has to offer. Father Carl McCarthy is a priest from Saints Joseph and Paul Catholic Church in Owensboro, Kentucky. After pursuing many options across the country, McCarthy decided to spend his sabbatical at Saint John’s. The flexibility of the program is what appealed to McCarthy the most.

“At the start of my sabbatical”, said McCarthy, “I went on an eight-day retreat to help define what I want out of my sabbatical. I want to renew, refresh, clean out, start anew. This time here will make me a stronger, more conscious, deliberate minister.”

The word “sabbatical” comes from the word “Sabbath”, which means rest. After 22 years in the priesthood, McCarthy is looking forward to getting some rest on his first sabbatical. 

Priests often choose to take some time to decompress from their all-hours lifestyle. The job requires such mental strength that Canon law allows diocesan priests to take a sabbatical once every ten years.

McCarthy will audit two classes in his time at the School of Theology. One class is the Theology of Vatican II with Kristin Colberg and the other is Pastoral Care for the Sick, Dying and Grieving with Kathleen Cahalan. McCarthy is impressed with the passion SOT professors have for their subject matter.

Campus visitors notice what sets our faith community apart from others.

“I see all that is renewing and refreshing. The spirit of the two communities on these campuses is very encouraging, and there is renewal in that. God is present here and I want to take that spirit home with me,” said McCarthy.

Come here to study, rest, pray and share your gifts with our graduate school community. More information on the website about spending your sabbatical on our campuses.