In the Gospel of John 15:12, Jesus says to his disciples: “Love one another as I have loved you.” This call to love is not only for the individual Christian but also for the wider efforts of Christian charitable efforts. The effort to find meaning in this call to love is often referred to as “Caritas Theology” after the Latin word for love—caritas. Most of the theological reflection on this notion of caritas has been in European Catholic circles, some of which has found its way into the teachings of Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis.
In 2015, the President of Brescia University was invited to participate in a conference on Caritas held at the Vatican. In many ways, Caritas Theology is a natural fit for Brescia as there has been a long-standing commitment of the faculty to integrate spirituality and social justice in the curriculum. Because the call of love is universal to all Christians, the University decided to integrate “Caritas Theology” into the broader life of Brescia. To that end, the Student Affairs Office redesigned its leadership development program with Caritas Theology as its core.
This new Student Affairs program, called “Learning to Lead with Love,” and other institutional efforts, are all directed to three overarching outcomes: our students will discover and understand Christian identity as principally determined by love; our students will gain theological knowledge about the meaning of the Christian call to love; and, our students will put this love into action with concrete service. With these outcomes, Identity, Knowledge, and Action become the three pillars upon which is built Brescia University’s response to Jesus’ call to love.
Funding provided by The Lilly Endowment also made it possible for Brescia University to extend similar programming to local high school students through a program called “Living and Leading with Love.” To that end, this program is designed to assist you in supporting these unique young people in your parish who enjoy wrestling with the deeper questions of faith.
As the only Catholic institution of higher education in the Diocese of Owensboro and western Kentucky, Brescia’s fit for such an effort flows from its longstanding relationship with the Ursuline Sisters as well as its well-established academic Theology major. The Ursuline Sisters originally came to Daviess County to create an academy for girls, which became the Mount Saint Joseph Junior College for Women in 1925 and Brescia College in 1950. The Ursulines are known throughout the world for their commitment to education and this commitment is deeply embedded in Brescia’s culture.
In partnership with Catholic schools, parish ministers, and diocesan agencies, the program will be complementary to the ongoing ministerial, formational, and educational work provided by the parishes in western Kentucky. We hope that as a church leader and/or educator that you will consider referring potential candidates for the program.