Two Angelicum students have received word that book reviews they wrote for an Angelicum class assignment last semester have been accepted for publication. Brother Michael Slovak, S.O.L.T., and Garrett Nelson, a seminarian of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings (USA), has each been alerted by the editor of Homiletic and Pastoral Review, that his review is appearing in the current issue (August/September 2011) of the journal. Brother Michael reviewed a work by University of Notre Dame (USA) professors Paul Bradshaw and Maxwell Johnson, entitled The Origins of Feasts, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity. Garrett Nelson’s review treats the Holy Father’s recent release, Jesus of Nazareth, Part 2: Holy Week.
In his course entitled Introduction to Christian Worship, Angelicum professor Father Michael Monshau, O.P., requires students to supplement required reading assignments with an additional book chosen by each individual student in the area of liturgical studies. The submission of a written review of the chosen book is a course requirement. Instead of accepting book reports on these readings that might be more typical of the traditional classroom book report form, Father Monshau teaches the class how to prepare a professional book review suitable for academic publication and requires students to employ that form for their written assignment. Those whose work passes Father Monshau’s scrutiny and who wish to do so (and who have chosen to read a recently released book), may then submit their review for publication to journals of their choice. Approaching editors and seeking publication are the student’s responsibility.
Father Monshau noted, “Obviously not every student’s efforts will result in acceptance for publication, but that is not the primary goal of the assignment. Father Charles Morerod, O.P., our Rector, has informed us in the past that some bishops have asked us to provide seminarians with greater classroom support toward the development of their writing skills. In their future priesthood, our seminarian students should anticipate any number of written responsibilities, including pastoral columns for parish bulletins, guides to accompany catechetical instructions, and occasional articles for the diocesan newspaper, to cite only several. Every cleric needs to be able to write at a professional level; the same holds for our Sister-students preparing for the classrooms and our lay catechists, to say nothing of our many students preparing for theological careers in the academy and countless other positions in church and society. This assignment allows the student to interact more deeply with the course material while enabling me to mentor them in the development of their theological writing skills. When the work of a student is accepted by an editor that means the Angelicum has helped a budding theologian to begin his or her professional bibliography. That gives me great pleasure.”
Regarding this unique type of course assignment, Garrett Nelson remarked, “The assignment was challenging, and motivated us to take more seriously our responsibility as theologians in the Church. Personally, I thought the assignment gave me greater confidence in my ability to contribute to the theological tradition of the Church, albeit in a small way.” Brother Michael Slovak tells a delightful story about his first encounter with his published piece. This fall, Brother Michael has been transferred by his Congregation to complete his theological studies at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit. He was happy to relate that his “…first visit to Sacred Heart Seminary included a tour of the campus. As the group reached the library, I walked over to the new journals stand (I think every library has one of these). I picked up the current edition of Homiletics and Pastoral Review.....and found my Book Review!!! What a remarkable welcome that must have been for Brother Michael to his new seminary library.
Assignments such as this lend evidence to the high presence of faculty/student interaction for which the Angelicum is so well known.