Our Ignatian heritage invites us to explore the intersection between theology and the arts. Seeking God in all things, our engagement with artistic mediums like poetry, music, drama, and literature nourishes our imagination and enlivens our theology. Here at STM, students will find a myriad of ways to discover the sustaining power of the arts for theology and ministry in today’s world.
“Engagement with the arts expands our theological sensibilities, coupling intellect and affect in ways that are freeing and formative. The arts serve as powerful spiritual resources, gathering the energy and emotions of the beholder and stimulating desire for meaningful praxis.”
Students in the M.A. Theology and Ministry program must complete an integrative thesis project that theologically and practically works with a question at the core of a student's ministerial interests. One option for this project allows students to engage their theological and ministerial interests through aesthetic expressions. Students whose artistic/performance abilities are already recognized may use these talents to generate a meaningful and comprehensive response to their thesis questions. An Artistic/Performance thesis may use creative arts (visual, musical, or movement), multi-media, or field-based work to explore a topic of theological and ministerial significance. This project culminates in a public performance or display that includes an educational component.
Justitia Revelio: Locating the Nexus Between Harry Potter and a Lived Theology of Justice
Marissa Papula '17
Fantasy, as allegory for the Gospel, creates space for the in-breaking of hope within the everyday. This nexus of hope and imagination, situated within the world of Harry Potter, serves as a vista toward a lived theology of justice for readers who accompanied “the boy who lived” in his revolution for the deliverance of wizarding society. Just as Rowling’s magical world exists subtly within our own, unnoticed by the untrained eye, so are notions of Catholic social teaching present within the novels, and revealed only to those plumbing the depths of Rowling’s work for the sacred.
Hope After Dark
Erica Papkee '19
In "Hope After Dark," a narrative One Act Play, Kat experiences the loss of her brother, Daniel. The performance invites the audience to contemplate how significant loss can impact faith and identity. We see Kat struggle with existential questions and begin to self-isolate from her support network. We watch as she is introduced to new characters who provide an alternative framework for understanding and accepting death. We listen as she learns of the communion of saints from an adult in the Christian community. And ultimately, we see the beginning of a new hope for Kat as she leans into a more complex and mature faith that can incorporate loss into the framework out of which she operates.
Looking with Easter Eyes: the Foundational Role of Aesth-ethics in Christian Formation
Chesirae Valentine '19
Beauty is found in the communal discernment of hope, of relationship, and of resurrection in Christianity. It is art that teaches its viewers to expect God — the Beautiful — to become in the midst of the mundane, the ugly, and poor. It is art, perhaps, that does this better than any other formation or educative process. Art, justice, and theology are burdened with gender-heavy judgments and assumptions. A feminist aesth-ethics must reject criticism founded on form or technique, and instead claim and critique art for what it really is: an influential power that has shaped and motivated entire movements toward oppression or liberation, one which demands personal investment. With these things in mind, I set about reading and researching, working through visual connections I saw between the Tradition and the world I inhabit. My thesis and art work is the result of that work.
Self-Care as Spiritual Practice: A Journal Process for Women in Caretaking Professions
Teresa Sullivan, MA/MSW '20
This thesis explores the relationship between spirituality and self-care for female graduate students going into caretaking fields such as ministry, social work, and counseling. It is predicated on the theory that if women learn within an intentional community during their vocational training how to best take care of their personal spiritual needs, they will be able to stay in caretaking fields for longer and find their work and personal lives more fulfilling. I created a journal using my own reflection questions and artwork to serve as a guide for the women’s group that I ran in my apartment once per month for six months. I invited six Boston College female graduate students, all of whom were in the middle of completing a degree from the STM, and some who were in the midst of dual degree programs, either in combination with the School of Social Work or the School of Education. We had a theme for each meeting that followed the themes of the journal and brought our own discussion questions and reflections to each meeting, making connections to how each theme showed up in our graduate training.
Campus Ministry in the 21st Century: A Documentary Film
Joshua Mayfield '19
We currently live at the apex of technological breakthroughs, competition, and external pressures which cause unprecedented stress. Humans have the ability to consistently intake media and live in a pseudo-world for low to no cost. These major influences affect how college students engage in their college experiences, and shape college students’ world-views, priorities, challenges, passions, and journeys. Through research on sustained accompaniment and interviews with a diverse group of active campus ministers, the intent of this thesis is to gain insight into how campus ministers serve in their role, sustain their enthusiasm, and seek to grow and evolve with new generations in the contemporary church.
For his thesis project, Andrew Craig '19 argued for the spirituality of children’s literature, in both its creation and its use. To convey this, he illustrated and wrote his own children’s book, The Girl Who Saved the Stars. He then shared the process as well as moments when he was able to read the book to groups of children. With inspiration from Pope Francis’s “Laudato Si'” as well as Elizabeth Johnson’s theology, he hoped to share a message of Care for Creation that empowers young voices to speak for what they believe in. The Girl Who Saved the Stars was recently published by Barnes & Noble Press.