Hundreds register for Fr. Kevin Grove’s course on St. Augustine’s autobiography
The Department of Theology is offering a new one-credit course on Augustine’s Confessions, taught by Father Kevin Grove, C.S.C. The class of almost 500 students meets Monday nights in DeBartolo Hall. According to the class’s course description, the entirety of the course is given to “examine Augustine’s Confessions.”
Although the class does not fulfill any university, college, or major requirements, every seat is filled. In an email to students registered for the course, Fr. Grove said, “You have packed the house. There will be no extra seats in Debartolo 101. If sitting next to your friends is important for you, you’ll probably want to arrive a little early.”
As hundreds of students packed into the largest classroom on campus, Fr. Grove thanked the class for enrolling in a course that offers no incentive, other than a chance for spiritual growth. He said, “I don’t get any credit for teaching this, but clearly, because the books are gone, there are over 470 of you, and I’m really thrilled to be with you.”
Father Grove continued, “The most consistent image for Augustine is a heart that’s on fire, and this is the goal for the whole semester. … What would it mean for each of us, each in his or her own particular way, to have a heart that is somehow on fire? And so the goal of this class is amazingly personal for you and for your friends.”
The course was conceived in conversation between Fr. Grove and one of his sophomore residents in Dunne Hall, Noah Allen. Allen told the Rover, “The idea for a book club based on Augustine’s Confessions came about as a result of my desire to learn from Fr. Kevin and deepen my faith along with Fr. Kevin’s (slight) obsession with Confessions. While we both liked the idea, I was honest with him about the likelihood of other guys (including myself) actively attending on a weekly basis. That spurred the question, ‘Could you make it a one credit class?’ From there, Fr. Kevin took hold of the idea and ran with it.”
Sophomore Alejandra Ricardo, another student in the class, said that she signed up for the course because of her experience in Fr. Grove’s “Foundations of Theology” class. She said, “Fr. Grove has a special grace that allows him to connect with his students in deeply meaningful ways. He manages to creatively present the material, allowing his students to personally integrate it to their lives. The first class I took with Fr. Grove was a blessing. So, when I saw the opportunity to replicate that gift, I took it without a second thought.”
After the first class session, the mother of a student in the course and renowned author and legal scholar, Erika Bachiochi, expressed her excitement on the social media app X. She posted a picture of the full lecture hall with the caption: “Word from @NotreDame is that the single credit class being offered this semester on Augustine’s Confessions is packed, every seat taken: 455 students. The kids are hungry for the true, the good, and the beautiful. Let’s give it to them.”
Ricardo echoed Bachiochi’s sentiment, saying, “It makes me very hopeful to see this class happening. It seems almost inconceivable that over 400 students are taking a course that fulfills no requirements and meets at 7 p.m. on Mondays purely out of a desire to grow in their faith. This is the sort of magic that is unique to Notre Dame, which reminds me why I chose to come here in the first place.”
Junior Caroline Gramm said in an interview with the Rover, “It’s really encouraging to see such a packed group of people in the class. … It reminded me why I love Notre Dame so much.”
In an interview with the Rover, Fr. Grove likewise expressed optimism about the enthusiasm of Notre Dame students. He said, “The energy and engagement of our students [at Notre Dame] has always been edifying to me, but this number and zeal is particularly a source of joy.”
Noah Allen said, “I also believe that more theology classes could adopt this one-credit, low stakes approach because it takes away the stress of a class and makes it much more enjoyable. The fact that it is one-credit also means that people are most likely there because they chose to be!”
The only assignment for the course is a spiritual autobiography, which every student must complete. Fr. Grove promised students that he will read through each autobiography and respond, via handwritten letter, to every student who wished over the summer.
Elizabeth Hale is a junior studying political science and Italian studies. Often described as a “loose cannon,” she is very excited that she is actually being encouraged to overshare in the context of this course. If you would like to read a test-run of her autobiography, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: The Irish Rover
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