Innovation at a Notre Dame Seminar Helps Students Grasp the Interface of Two Subject Areas

By Staff     8/18/2017


A  team of four teachers from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana recently participated in a Science & Religion Seminar, an initiative of the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.  

Agnes Faltas, Kendra Hart, Jack Phan and Marla Utley represented the Diocese of Orange at the weeklong seminar in late June. In lectures and workshops, they worked with leading researchers as well as other educators selected from 25 Catholic high schools across the nation. They collaborated on innovative plans to explore with students the dialogue connecting science and religion courses. The leading researchers included Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., director of the Vatican Observatory.  

“When our high schools excel at exploring that interface, students take two giant steps forward,” said Jay Martin, co-director of the initiative along with Patricia Bellm at Notre Dame’s nationally known institute serving Church apostolates. “The students gain theological insights grounded in reason, plus scientific knowledge that boosts them toward faith-filled lives, as well as tomorrow’s careers.” 

The initiative assists schools in deepening the collaboration among teachers and principals. Selected from about 120 Catholic schools that applied for this summer’s introductory Foundations Seminar, the team from Mater Dei High School joined with other participants to better understand the coherent pursuit of truth that spans different high school subjects, the leaders of the initiative said. 

Twin sessions of the seminar, one held on the Notre Dame campus and one in New Orleans, LA, prepared educators to return to their schools this fall as advocates among their colleagues, ready to implement new lesson plans.