College students may have a hard time dealing with challenges to their faith once they hit campus, but try being a Catholic professor.
A new group, The Bishop’s Society of Catholic Scholars, hopes to offer a source of information and support to the state’s higher education teachers who also happen to be Catholic.
Steven Millies, the main organizer, is an associate professor of political science at the University of South Carolina-Aiken. Millies and his family moved to Aiken 10 years ago from Chicago, and joined St. Mary Help of Christians Church.
As far as he can tell, he’s the only Catholic on the faculty at USC-Aiken, and he’s never received any negative feedback or uncomfortable questions about his faith.
“There are people who have horror stories about being Catholic and a college instructor, but I have had a very happy experience,” he said. “However, because my professional work is so close to my personal and spiritual life, it is hard not to have the nourishment of conversation with a spiritual community of likeminded people. It’s clear from what I’ve heard from other Catholic scholars in the state they have a thirst for something like that as well.”
Millies said the main goal of the society is to bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines for discussion on how they live out the faith in their daily lives.
“We want to learn how we live the Catholic mission as political scientists, as literature and math professors, as other scholars, and learn how we all can come together in the Catholic tradition,” Millies said.
He also hopes the group will function as a spiritual community. Meetings ideally will include opportunities for worship, prayer and discussion of faith-related topics.
Another goal is to compile a directory of society members who can offer advice and expertise as needed to the bishop and others around the diocese.
So far about 30 men and women have expressed interest in the society. They include instructors and professors at technical colleges, USC, Clemson, the College of Charleston, Wofford College, Furman University and The Citadel, and span a wide variety of disciplines, from literature and math to philosophy and biology.
The society will hold its first meeting on Aug. 23 at St. Joseph Church in Columbia, beginning with 10 a.m. Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone. A luncheon and business meeting will follow in the parish life center.
If you are a Catholic who teaches in a college or university and are interested in joining the society, contact Millies at (803) 641-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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