Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Online Reading Community

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During 2014, the Lay Degree Program is offering four online noncredit reading programs aimed at helping Catholics, lay ministers and others to grow in their faith and in their readiness for ministry on behalf of the Church.

In a reading community, the participants read a book together on a theological topic and then discuss the contents online using Saint Meinrad's Moodle platform. Books are selected on the basis of reliable authorship, readability and relevance to Christian life. The online discussions are moderated by Saint Meinrad's Br. Zachary Wilberding, OSB.

These offerings do not carry academic credit, so the pressure is lower than in a regular college or graduate course in theology. Those who complete all assignments will be provided documentation of their successful completion, for purposes of continuing education or ministry certification requirements.

The participant fee for each reading community is $40, which includes the price of the book, which will be mailed to you before the program begins.


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Reading Community I: Pleading, Cursing, Praising: Conversing with God through the Psalms by Irene Nowell. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2013, 94 pages.

Dates: February 2-April 19, 2014. Register by January 15, 2014.

From the book jacket: "Nowell maintains that the psalms teach us to tell our story, to cry out in pain, and to give praise to God. They also teach us to listen-to the voice of God, the voice of Christ, the voices of the people around us, and the voice of all creation."

Sister Irene Nowell, OSB, is a member of St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison, KS, and served on the translation team for the revised Old Testament of the New American Bible. She is a past president of the Catholic Biblical Association and a popular teacher. According to Abbot Jerome Kodell: "No one knows the psalms better than Irene Nowell."

Reading Community II: The Sermon on the Mount: The Perfect Measure of the Christian Life by Frank J. Matera. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2013, 121 pages.

Dates: April 27-July 26, 2014. Register by April 12, 2014.

From the book jacket: "Saint Augustine once described the Sermon on the Mount as 'the perfect measure of the Christian life.' Taking his cue from Augustine, Frank Matera provides and exposition of the sermon for contemporary readers who wish to use the sermon as the standard by which they live their lives every day."

Frank J. Matera, former professor of Biblical Studies at the Catholic University of America and former president of the Catholic Biblical Association, is pastor of St. Mary's Church in Simsbury, Connecticut. Fr. Ronald D. Witherup, SS, comments: "In this deceptively small book, Matera offers an impressive interpretation of Jesus' teaching that is attentive to both ethical and spiritual dimensions of the text…. I highly recommend it."

Reading Community III: The Eucharist: What Do We Believe?  by Fainche Ryan. Dublin: The Columba Press, 2012, 92 pages.

Dates: August 17-October 18, 2014. Register by August 5, 2014.

From the book jacket: "The book is intended for adults who wish to engage in a critical and informed manner with their faith, who wish to begin to engage in theological reflection as they seek to enter ever more deeply into relationship with God."

Fainche Ryan is a lecturer in theology at the Mater Dei Institute of Dublin City University. She holds a doctorate in theology from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome.

Reading Community IV: Chasing Mystery: A Catholic Biblical Theology by Carey Walsh. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2012, 164 pages.

Dates: October 27-December 20, 2014. Register by October 15, 2014.

From the book jacket: "Amid the prevailing skepticism and restlessness, says Walsh, we must relearn the skill of trust in reading Scripture. The aim is to experience God through holy writing…. She insists that the pages of the Bible do not simply describe divine presence; they evoke it in the process of reading."

Carey Walsh is an associate professor of Old Testament at Villanova University.


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