Critical Conversations in Catholic Education

Annually, in partnership with graduate students from Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, the Roche Center sponsors a course exploring a critical topic impacting Catholic education. The course is designed and implemented in collaboration with an STM graduate student, whose proposal is selected and approved by the Executive Director of the Roche Center and the Dean of the School of Theology and Ministry. A graduate assistantship over one academic year is provided to the candidate whose proposal is selected, allowing the individual the fall semester to develop the proposed course and the spring semester to implement. Upon approval of their advisor, the selected individual may choose to write their Master’s thesis on this topic and experience.


Previous courses taught:

Spring 2020 Course: El Encuentro: Immigration and the Catholic Educator’s Response. 

This course provided students with the opportunity to examine the contexts and realities of global and U.S. immigration through the lens of Catholic tradition and teaching. Using Catholic Social Ethics coupled with multiple and varied experiences of “Encounter,” the course challenged students to critically evaluate their understanding of immigration in light of their roles as Catholic school educators, as they explore such questions as: What is the history of global and U.S. immigration, and what has been the role and response of Catholic schools? What are the political, economic, and social causes of immigration? What is the Catholic Church’s teaching and response to immigration? How can I make my classroom, pedagogy, and school more culturally responsive? 

El Encuentro Participants and Bishop Seitz pose for a photo in front of an Oscar Romero Painting


Meet the Graduate Students

Arielle Gannon

Arielle is an Ed-tech entrepreneur and founder of teacherCODE. Arielle completed her undergraduate degree at Trinity College Dublin in Physics, and completed the University of Notre Dame’s Master in Education program in 2017 and Master in Science with ESTEEM, an innovative 11-month Entrepreneurship Master’s Program in 2018. Upon graduation, she founded teacherCODE, a Computer Science and Technology professional development company. teacherCODE has already helped over 1000 educators from the US (over 25 states), Canada, Mexico, Ireland, and the UK launch their virtual classrooms. Arielle supports the Roche Center as a practitioner fellow, working with Catholic teachers and leaders as they develop virtual learning plans and learn technologies that meaningfully engage students and improve student outcomes.



Christian Lingner

After receiving Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Theology from College of the Ozarks, a small liberal arts university in his native Missouri, Christian moved to Boston in 2019 to pursue a Master’s of Theological Studies from the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College. While Christian’s intellectual interests range from patristic theology to the intersection of aesthetics and literature, his passion for teaching, as well as his past experience as a high school student in a classical Christian school, has lead him to the Roche Center as a Graduate Assistant, seeking to develop resources for Catholic schools that wish to learn more about the method and implementation of classical Christian education.



Kristen Millar

Kristen Millar is a fifth year teacher in the archdiocese of Boston. She obtained her bachelor's degree in elementary education from Saint Mary's college, Notre Dame and a masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Boston College. Prior to joining the Roche center, she was a graduate assistant and community facilitator with the Urban Catholic Teacher Corps of Boston College from which she began her teaching ministry. As an aspiring leader Kristen has been involved in various programs since her time in undergrad. In 2015 she delivered letters to Pope Franics as part of Saint Mary’s “letters from catholic young women project”, then served as a liturgical minister in Wexford, Ireland as part of Notre Dame’s House of Brigid program, and most recently traveled to EL Paso and Juarez, Mexico to encuenter firsthand the complexities of immigration and the Catholic leaders response. Currently, Kristen is working towards completing a masters in Educational leadership and policy from BC.

Sadie Villareal

Sadie Villarreal is a graduate student in Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, and is currently working towards a master’s degree in Theology and Pastoral Ministry. Sadie comes from San Antonio, TX where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Theology. Her Theological studies have led to many opportunities such as traveling abroad and volunteering for mission trips. She recently spent a summer in Denver, Colorado working as a Missionary for Christ in the City. Sadie’s biggest passion is working in San Antonio’s prison ministry where she has helped expand the love of Christ and spread the Catholic faith. Sadie currently works as a Graduate Assistant where she helps others with any resources that are needed.