Theology department offers one-credit catechetical courses

Eighty percent of Notre Dame students in the Class of 2020 are Catholic, according to the statistics released by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. This large majority is consistent with the average percentage of Catholics who enrolled as freshmen at the university in prior years.

However, many students who profess Catholic faith might also have gaps in their knowledge of Church teaching. For about a decade, the Department of Theology, in coordination with Campus Ministry, has offered a solution for students seeking to close those gaps: the Know Your Catholic Faith Series.

This series is a grouping of one-credit theology courses “focused on a central feature of the Catholic faith, so that students learn what the Church teaches on these topics and gain a basic theological and personal understanding of them,” according to the Department of Theology website.

Each semester, various professors in the Theology Department offer a course on a particular aspect of the Catholic faith and spirituality, and each course is taught primarily from the lens of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in conjunction with other relevant readings.

This semester’s courses are entitled “Holy Cross Spirituality” and “Mary.” Past courses as listed on the Department of Theology’s website include the saints, Catholic social teaching and environmentalism, vocational discernment, and Ignatian spirituality.

The course on Holy Cross Spirituality is being taught by Professor David Clairmont, who will also be leading a pilgrimage to France over fall break to explore the spiritual lives of Congregation of Holy Cross founder Blessed Basil Moreau and Notre Dame founder Father Edward Sorin.

Originally, a course on prayer was scheduled to be taught by Professor Keith Egan. However, Professor Egan told the Rover that his course was cancelled due to a scheduling error that kept students from registering.

Professor Timothy Matovina, who is teaching this semester’s course on Mary and has taught other courses previously, expressed excitement for his course: “I am so passionate about teaching [about Mary] and studying [her] with our students.

Although the one-credit classes do not fulfill the university’s theology requirements for graduation, Professor Matovina expressed that in his experience, students take them out of a curiosity for their subject matter.

In my particular course, over the years various students have given as their reason for taking the course that ‘I am at Our Lady’s University, but I don’t feel I know much about Mary’ or similarly ‘I pass that woman on the Dome multiple times a day, and I want to know more about her,’” Matovina stated.

The relaxed nature of these courses also serves as an encouragement for students to engage in the catechetical classes. Because they are only one-credit and offered on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading scale, the additional work is minimal, allowing students to enjoy the material without stressing about their GPA.

The Know Your Catholic Faith series first began when Professor John Cavadini served as Chair of the Department of Theology. Professor Cavadini now serves as the McGrath-Cavadini Director of the Institute for Church Life. Other catechetical programs with which he has helped include the ECHO graduate program and the ND Vision program for high school students.

Professor Matovina confirmed that the genesis for the one-credit courses is not related to the proposed changes to Notre Dame’s Theology requirements by the Core Curriculum Review Committee. The Know Your Catholic Faith series began several years before the inquiry into the current core curriculum.

Evan Holguin is a junior majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies with a minor in philosophy. He likes penguins, Weird Al, and long walks around the lakes. Contact him at