Tuesday, September 6, 2011

As I've said in my intro...

…this is a teaching and learning blog. And because so many of you (Catholic or not) are interested in learning more about the Catholic Faith, I am excited to tell you about what my own parish is doing in that regard and how it relates to you.

My amazing pastor Fr. John Ehrich* established the Institute of Catholic Theology a couple of years back so that any adult with a desire to learn more about the Faith is able to access outstanding instruction on a wide range of topics.

What's it to you, dear readers? Well, the classes are taught in person, but also via streaming video!** Yay!! Many out-of-towners take the classes right along with the folks sitting in the classroom. Not only can those out-of-towners access the streaming video in real time***, they can also later watch the recorded videos, which are available for a total of eight weeks (the six weeks of class and then for two weeks after).

Each course, taught at an undergraduate level and geared toward the average layman, is only $50 (plus the cost of an inexpensive book, if needed). Such a deal!

Check out the three classes which are starting up next week:

St. Augustine’s “City of God”
September 12 – October 17
Professor : Rev. Oliver Vietor, M.Div

“The City of God is the autobiography of the Church written by the most Catholic of her great saints…The City of God, for those who can understand it, contains the secret of death and life, war and peace, hell and heaven” (Thomas Merton, introduction to the Modern Library Edition). The class will read and discuss selections from Saint Augustine’s great work and will gain a deeper understanding of scripture, theology, history, and spirituality. “For what other end do we propose to ourselves than to attain to the kingdom of which there is no end?” (Book XXII.30)

An Introduction to Plato
September 14 – October 19
Professor : Thomas E. Lordan, JD, MA, ABD

This course is for students who are new to Plato, as well as for those who may have studied him before. Why study Plato? As C.S. Lewis’ devil, Screwtape, put it, when we moderns are confronted by the work of an ancient author, the one thing we have been taught never to ask is whether it is true. We must try to overcome that modern prejudice. Western culture is principally based on two things: Greek philosophy (Plato and Aristotle) and Judaeo-Christian revelation (the Bible). In a time, like ours, of massive deculturation, it is vital to return to the sources. As John Paul II put it, faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth. Plato and Aristotle may be said to have been the first “Fathers of the Church,” even before there was a Church. Plato, the first philosopher, wrote dialogues, that is, little dramas, in most of which the hero was Socrates. Plato stands to Socrates as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John stand to Jesus. Socrates discovered and articulated the dimensions of the human soul. Like Jesus, he was unjustly put to death by the authorities in the society whose order he disturbed. We will consider especially the following dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, and Phaedo (chronicling the “Last Days of Socrates”); Gorgias and Republic (two of Plato’s most important ethical-political works); and Phaedrus and Symposium (Plato’s dialogues on love). These are available on-line, or may be purchased in inexpensive editions.

Your Mother Wears Army Boots...and You Should, Too: Basic Training in Apologetics
September 15 – October 20
Professor: Rob Drapeau, MA.Ed

"Your mother wears army boots!" This familiar schoolyard taunt has prompted more than one playground pugilist to put up his dukes in defense of his mother's reputation, but worse things are said about the Catholic Church every day. Are you going to let them talk about your mom like that? At Confirmation we became soldiers for Christ, fully initiated members of the Church Militant. As such, we are obliged to readily and charitably defend our Mother whenever she is attacked. Can you do this? This class will equip you to:
  • win any argument without cheating
  • defend your faith without being defensive (or offensive!)
  • use your sword and shield (the Bible and faith) together effectively
  • stump your anti-Catholic brother-in-law this Thanksgiving with "Jesus Judo"
  • be unapologetic when you apologize (give reasons for your beliefs)
Join us to develop or hone your skills. All are welcome!


Sound good so far? Yes! But if you're wondering what what caliber of professor you can expect for $50, check 'em out!

Rev. Oliver Vietor, M.Div.

Rev. Oliver Vietor has a B.S. from the United States Naval Academy and a M.Div. from Yale University Divinity School. He was ordained in the Catholic Church under the terms of the Pastoral Provision for former Episcopal clergymen. He and his wife, Ashley, and their six children have lived in Phoenix since 2005 and began attending St. Thomas the Apostle in 2007. He taught in the Institute last year and has taught previously in his ministry and in high school.

Thomas Lordan, MA, JD

Thomas Lordan graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1971 with a B.A. major in Philosophy, and graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 1974. He was a member of the Notre Dame London Center for Legal Studies in London, England during the 1972-1973 academic year. In 1996, he received an M.A. in Politics, with a concentration in political theory, from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and completed all but his dissertation for the Ph.D. degree. Thomas has been a practicing lawyer since 1974, and is licensed in Arizona, Ohio, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. His practice has been primarily in commercial law, both litigation and transactions.

Rob Drapeau, MA.Ed.

Rob Drapeau is a teacher and writer with over ten years experience teaching Theology to students ranging from fifth graders in their wonder years to retirees in their golden years. He spent eight years as a Theology Instructor at Brophy College Preparatory and has taught Monday School, a theology-for-beginners class at St. Thomas the Apostle, for the past two years. Rob has an BA in Religious Studies from the University of Arizona and an MAEd in Educational Technology from the University of Phoenix.
Currently, Rob owns and operates wordSwell, a small, business writing company, and teaches Theology, Latin, and Language Arts part-time to junior high kids at St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe School in Phoenix.
Rob is the proud father of Sophia, Joseph, Olivia, Annamaria Francesca, Max and Gemma, and the happy husband of Amy.

Alas, it is true that Fr. Vietor and Rob Drapeau are personal friends of mine, but please don't let that deter you! They are much kinder and smarter than I!

To learn more about the Institute, go here, or to bypass everything because you can't wait to register this very second, go here.

When Fall Semester, 2nd Quarter rolls around, I will highlight those classes, too. Now get going because if you learn all the stuff they teach, you will know way more than I do, and then you can engage the atheists and Church-bashers in the Bubble and I will retire. Or, better yet, the atheists and Church-bashers can take the classes and then convert and become holy saints before the rest of us! :)

*Fr. Ehrich is my wonderful (young whipper-snapper!) pastor whose theological street cred (and real cred) speaks for itself!

Rev. John Ehrich, MA, M.Div., STL

Rev. John Ehrich, STL, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Phoenix in 2000. He earned his M.A. from St. Meinrad Seminary in 1998 and his MDiv in 2000. After five years of parish ministry, he studied moral theology at the Accademia Alfonsiana in Rome where he earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology in 2007. Fr. Ehrich is the Medical Ethics Director for the Diocese of Phoenix, chaplain of the Catholic Medical Association and chaplain of the Catholic Physician's Guild of Phoenix. Fr. Ehrich is currently the pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Phoenix, AZ. He is the founder and director of the St. Thomas the Apostle Institute of Catholic Theology.

**Perfect for all my fellow introverts!!

***Arizona is Mountain Standard Time


  1. LOVE it! I want to take some of these eventually and I LOVE that parish. Before my best friend joined the Dominican Sisters of Mary, we used to spend a lot of time there. I haven't had a lot of time to visit since I've had 3 babies in 3 yrs, but I always feel like I need to. It was just a major part of my conversion. My dr. goes to that parish too. I like to ramble. I could go on and on about how much I love that parish, lol.

  2. And sorry, my ramble made litte sense. I'm one handed typing - cranky baby today.

  3. I am interested in the apologetics one. Leila, ar you sure your are an introvert? That almost cracks me up.

  4. Colleen, ha ha, yes!

    I've been meaning to do another post on introversion (I did one in the past), because so many people think that because I am not shy, and because I am friendly, I can't be an introvert. But we use the term incorrectly. Introvert doesn't mean shy. :)

    Watch for a post someday soon (God willing!).

    Definitely sign up for Rob's class. He's a stitch!!

  5. Colleen, FYI, here is my first "introvert" post from way back:


  6. Leila

    I read your introverted post and I really liked it! I am a classic introvert-nobody would be surprised to hear this. I was shy all my life but have learned to overcome it (for the most part.)But I think you're so right about what you said about extraverts "not getting" introverts and the assumptions that comes along with that. Most of my friends are extraverts and before kids came along, they loved to try to get me out to the bars and the clubs! It seemed to be their personal mission to get Becky out on the dance floor to see her dance! (I can't dance at all.)They have pretty much given up on me now, I think.

  7. This is phenomenal! I wish some priests around here would take note. I had Fr. Ehrich for daily mass when I was out there! :)

  8. I took "Learning Latin through the Rosary" from the ICT last fall and it was a FANTASTIC class!! Through it, I learned about CatholicPhoenix.com, which led me to the Bubble, so I will be eternally grateful to the ICT!

  9. I am considering sighing up. Not an introvert, so I wish I could go be there. Thanks for this Leila!


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