Matt C. Abbott
September 13, 2017
Dawn of Mercy: Catholic author tells of new job and upcoming books
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By Matt C. Abbott

Below is a recent e-letter update from my friend Dawn Eden Goldstein, S.T.D., which she has edited for publication. I have written about Dawn and quoted her in past columns; like me, she has been outspoken for several years on matters pro-life and Catholic. She has accomplished much in recent times. God bless her!



As any mom can tell you, so much can happen in nine months! Many good things have come to pass since January, when I last sent you an update on my life and apostolate. In case you don't have time to peruse a lengthy catch-up email, I'll frontload this missive with a bullet list and then offer some details:
  • Back in the States – with a new job: As of August 21, I am an assistant professor of dogmatic theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut. Deo gratias!

  • A new award – this one for Remembering God's Mercy: You may recall that, in 2005, a New York Post headline of mine took first place in the New York State Associated Press awards for 'Brightest Headline': HURT IN LINE OF DOODY. Well, it took twelve years, but I've won first place again – this time in the Association of Catholic Publishers' 2017 Excellence in Publishing Awards, who named Remembering God's Mercy the top inspirational book of the year.

  • Two new books in the pipeline: This summer, I wrote a proposal and two chapters of a memoir, tentatively titled Sunday Will Never Be the Same: My Search for Infinite Love, from Rock to Rome. I also wrote a proposal for a book of my dissertation, reframed with the tentative title Consecrating the World Through Spiritual Sacrifices: Redemptive Suffering as an Act of the Baptismal Priesthood. Both proposals are currently being reviewed by publishers, so I'm hoping to have some more good news to share with you soon. Please say a prayer.

  • An edited book coming soon: Another project that kept me busy over the summer was editing Fun Is Not Enough, a collection of thought-provoking essays on faith, freedom, and pro-life issues that my late friend and mentor Francis Canavan, S.J., wrote for the catholic eye newsletter. Fun Is Not Enough has already earned praise from National Review Online's Kathryn Jean Lopez, who writes, 'This book empowers the reader to see beyond the daily distractions of politics, culture, and our overstimulated lives, and keep the focus on the truth in Christ.' The book, which includes an introduction by Stephen M. Fields, S.J., will be launched on October 26 at the Human Life Foundation's annual Defender of Life gala at the Union League Club, where I will speak briefly about Father Canavan before the evening's honoree, Carly Fiorina, is introduced.

  • An upcoming conference presentation at Ave Maria University: I'm very excited to be presenting a paper at the Aquinas and the Greek Fathers conference at Ave Maria University in January. My topic will be 'St. Thomas Aquinas, Pseudo-Dionysius, and St. John Chrysostom on Galatians 2:20 and the Purification of Love.'
And now the details: I had a wonderful year teaching three courses to seminarians at St. Mary's College, Oscott, in Birmingham, England. It was also a blessing to do adjunct teaching at Allen Hall – the seminary of the Diocese of Westminster – and at the Maryvale Institute during my stay in the UK. I was thankful at each of those places, particularly Oscott, to be part of a professional, well-run institution, working alongside good people who gave generously of themselves in their labor for the Church.

But there are some things about one's native culture that one can't fully appreciate until one has undergone the alien experience. Certainly, although I met many big-hearted people in the UK and loved my work in the classroom, I desperately missed my friends and family, and the ways of interacting that I had enjoyed in the United States. So, when the opportunity came to take an assistant professorship at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, I was thankful to accept it, despite the hardship of making a second transatlantic move in the space of a year.

I have been at Holy Apostles for two weeks now, and have just completed my first week of teaching there. It is similar to Oscott in the ways that matter, such as orthodoxy and professionalism among the faculty and staff. Also, both campuses are in beautiful settings and have very good, fresh food.

But in many ways – really great ways – Holy Apostles is simply like no place I've ever been. It's the ecclesia in miniature, with a studentate that includes forty seminarians, about a dozen priests, forty religious sisters, and a sprinkling of laity (with hundreds more in the online programs).

And the faith is lived here. Not that it wasn't elsewhere; goodness knows it was! But here, all the godly things I experienced in my daily social interactions at other places are magnified.

There is no faculty dining room at Holy Apostles. Everyone – faculty, staff, and students – dines together at all three meals, and the conversation is more than small talk. People here take a genuine interest in one another's well-being. I can't walk outside my door without getting a sincere smile and hello. Of course, I've experienced warmth and generosity everywhere I've been, but elsewhere there were warm and generous individuals, whereas here it is more like an entire culture of encounter, just what Pope Francis keeps telling us he wants us all in the Church to have. I don't think anyone can spend more than a few minutes here without being utterly charmed by the place.

The spiritual strand of formation has historically been particularly strong at Holy Apostles. Every First Friday is a silent day of recollection. Every Thursday, the Mass of Paul VI is celebrated in Latin. There is a Holy Hour every day, at least three hours of optional Eucharistic Adoration on most days, and, on Saturdays, an optional prayer vigil at an abortion mill.

There is more to say about Holy Apostles' pro-life witness. Students get a day off each year to travel to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life. Outside the chapel is a Tomb of the Unborn Child where a baby boy is buried who was aborted at ten weeks. The corpse was found by a seminarian after someone at the abortion mill dumped it.

But observance of Catholic social teaching at Holy Apostles doesn't stop with the teachings on life. Most of the students here (including all the religious sisters) are from the developing world, particularly Vietnam, but also Haiti, China, and Latin American countries. They will return to their native lands not only with an excellent philosophical and theological education but also with the ability to speak English, a language that will help them have a greater voice in the global Church. All the faculty and staff here work with terrific dedication to enable these students to have every opportunity to shine, and I am so honored to be part of the team.

I won't kid you; it's not easy to start again in a new place that puts me at some distance from my friends and family (though a whole lot closer than England). Also, Cromwell, although lovely, is not the easiest place for a non-driver to live. But even so, I am feeling a good deal more peace now than I have since graduating Mundelein in May of last year. God is good!

© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.


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