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Handing on the Faith: College Theolgoy Society Annual Volume




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Permission has been granted by Orbis Books to include this chapter.


I am currently a doctoral student in theology in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Dayton, a Catholic university operated by the Society of Mary, or Marianists. I have the pleasure of teaching the mandatory introductory course for the department, which can be a complicated task on its own, given that the course is intended to introduce students to both religious studies and theology. I will, however, largely bypass this particular complication in this essay and focus instead on the challenges of what it means to hand on the faith in the college classroom. In thinking about this theme, I considered not only my experiences as a young teacher of theology, but also the way I've gone about narrating them. I have, on several occasions, found myself on an airplane explaining my vocation to a veritable stranger. There is almost always something I include when discussing my teaching life, something that I've chosen to focus on for my reflection here. I must confess that after trying to describe what I teach, I tell my conversation partner, "But I don't try to convert my students. That's not my goal." I refer to this comment and the feelings behind it as the "conversion caveat." Though I don't say it, you could almost add a "so don't worry" to this very loaded statement, as I try to anticipate and then assuage the probably nonexistent concerns of the poor soul who ended up next to a graduate student on her flight.

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