COLUMBIA—A group of professors joined in worship and laid the groundwork for the new Bishop’s Society of Catholic Scholars on Aug. 23.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit for about 40 men and women at St. Joseph Church in Columbia, and then joined them in the parish life center for the society’s first meeting.
Steven Millies, an associate professor of political science at the University of South Carolina-Aiken, is the main organizer.
He told the group their faith offered them a rare chance to share the Catholic imagination with their students and the rest of the secular world.
“Our view of the world, the cosmos — everything — is fired by the incarnational fact of our faith,” he said. “Incarnation is not only the Word made flesh, but also the mystery of the Eucharist that comes alive in the sacrifice of the Mass every day at our local parish church … we come together to see sanctity through our work as Catholic scholars in and through our academic vocation.”
Millies said scholars enjoy a life devoted to both faith and reason, but acknowledged it can be a lonely pursuit. He hopes the new group will be an important source of fellowship and friendship.
“Academic life also is the coming together of scholars to discuss, collaborate, critique and to discover the truth through discourse,” he said. “In a new way, that is what we shall do here. Let us, together, take up that struggle in a new way and seek after the light of Christ … let us guide each other, our students and the rest of the human community toward the hope and the joy of knowledge and truth.”
Many who attended said having a Catholic scholars’ organization had never occurred to them before, but they think it has a lot of potential.
“I enjoyed meeting my colleagues and I’m looking forward to getting to know more of them,” said William DeMars, a professor and chairman of the Department of Government at Wofford College in Spartanburg. “There are a lot of things that come up in higher education that fall under the broad umbrella of faith and reason, and this will offer a good chance to discuss them.”
“It was a great pleasure to see so many scholars from so many different backgrounds come together in a spirit of service and fellowship to benefit the Church and higher education,” said Miller Shealy, a professor at the Charleston School of Law. “Hopefully one of the things we will do is help to fill a void by being a Catholic presence on the campuses.”
Members agreed they would like to meet at least twice a year to discuss faith-related topics, and helped Millies compile a list of possible future officers. Other goals for the society include compiling a directory of members who could offer their expertise to the bishop or others as needed.
Catholics who teach in a college or university can still join the society by contacting Millies at (803) 641-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.