An Open Dialogue
Boston College and Its Spiritual Mission
Join School of Theology and Ministry graduate students Susan Reynolds, MTS’13, PhD’17, and Jeremy Zipple, SJ, ’00, MDiv’13, STL’14, as they discuss their personal academic journeys—and how they believe Boston College is shaping the future of religious education.
Susan Reynolds: I think we both chose Boston College because it was different. As a lay theology student, the other schools that I considered would not have placed me in classes with priests or care about my overall development: my formation intellectually, spiritually, and socially. So being here, where so many are being rigorously trained in theology and ministry has brought not only an obvious practical dimension to my studies, but it’s also grounded the way theology is taught at BC.
Jeremy Zipple: The international aspect, too, adds value. I’m a Jesuit, but I’ve been in a seminar with a priest from the Congo, a nun from Vietnam, and a married person from the Midwest. The incredible diversity of backgrounds and perspectives gives you a much broader understanding of your own faith. You see how God is working in different ways in different lives.
SR: Nothing can be simply theoretical when you’re in classes with people who will minister all over the world. I’m also grateful that this diversity has created an environment in which we can have honest conversations about the issues facing today’s Church.
JZ: I agree. A place like STM gives me a lot of hope because it’s a forum where we can openly discuss issues like ideological polarization, immigration, parish closings, and the role of women in the Church.
SR: And it’s these discussions that have prepared me to contribute to the wider world. In particular, my master’s thesis examined parish life in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. It’s one thing to get a book off a shelf and another to live the experience. For me, it was such a moment of “yes,” this is the ministry and this is the real mission of STM.
JZ: Some of my work has focused on women religious. It’s a historical look, but I can see how it might affect what we do in the future, so we can be a better, more loving, more welcoming Church. At the end of the day, this vision is why I’m at STM.