Strengthening and enriching our communities, both local and global, is an important part of living with a dedication to truth and virtue. We seek to nurture not only our own families but also our human family. Both near and far, UD students, faculty and alumni live out this commitment to truth, to virtue, and to humanity as a whole in various acts of service, helping others to improve their lives and always improving their own in the process. In “UD in Service” stories, we will explore these occasions of hope, faith and inspiration.
UD students not only read St. Augustine’s Confessions in Rome, traveling to Ostia to marvel at the place in which, according to Book IX, St. Augustine and his mother, St. Monica, had a joint mystical vision of God — they also travel 4.4 miles from the Irving campus to read the text with residents of South Irving.
For the 2018-2019 academic year, two doctoral students in philosophy have been leading reading groups at St. Luke’s, a local Catholic parish. Many of its parishioners are Hispanic immigrants, so the groups have been conducted in both English and Spanish.
Each participant received a free copy of the Confessions. Once a month the two groups of 10 have been meeting to work their way through Augustine’s masterpiece.
Kimberly Heil leads the English-speaking group.
“Reading the challenging writing of St. Augustine with these parishioners is a fruitful and exhilarating experience,” she said. “They bring an eagerness to grow in knowledge and faith to their reading and to our discussions.”
Pavel Jimenez-Vazquez leads the Spanish-speaking group.
“I am very thankful for this opportunity to share off campus some of the formation that we receive at UD,” he said. “Perhaps the most compelling thing for me is that the attendees are fully engaged with the idea of having an intellectual formation as Catholics. Augustine is definitely enlightening their paths in seeking the truth.”
The reading groups are the result of a one-time community outreach grant from the American Catholic Philosophical Association. They are administered by the graduate director of the M.A. in philosophy program, Associate Professor of Philosophy Chad Engelland, Ph.D.
“Augustine said that truth can only be had in being given away,” said Engelland. “As every teacher knows, the same is true of a great book like the Confessions.”