"When I think of the word 'hope,' the first image that comes
into my mind is a group of children singing together," says lay
degree student Meredith Riley. "They know they have a future full
of hope, and I try to encourage them to be active in the Church,
share their faith and be themselves."
Meredith, of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, is a music,
eighth-grade religion and middle school theater teacher at St. Roch
Catholic School in Indianapolis. She also gives piano lessons
during the week and does music ministry in a couple parishes on the
One of Meredith's favorite parts of being a teacher is getting
to know her students and sharing her faith with them. She hopes she
can inspire an appreciation for the liturgy and confidence in
taking active roles in the Church.
"I love hearing the students talk about their faith," she
explains. "The joy the students have, whether it is a class of
kindergarteners singing, middle school students acting, or the
eighth graders in the classroom, is inspiring. I try to emulate
that joy in the way I teach. I try to make sure the students know
what they are singing about, and show the importance of being
Christ for one another."
In 2012, Meredith began working on her Master of Arts Pastoral
Theology degree at Saint Meinrad to help gain a greater
appreciation of faith, the liturgy and spirituality in her
"I loved teaching music, but I wanted to still grow in my faith
and knowledge," she says. "I work in music ministry and catechesis,
and I knew beginning a lay degree would help me become a better lay
She says she has already been able to use the knowledge and
skills she's learned at Saint Meinrad in her work and ministry.
"In training lay leaders to be theologically informed and
spiritually active, Saint Meinrad is preparing ministers for the
future of the Church. I have learned such a great deal in my
studies at Saint Meinrad. It has helped me grow academically,
emotionally and spiritually."
Meredith is not sure where she'll be called in a year, or even
10 years, but she says the weekends she's spent at Saint Meinrad
have really inspired her ministry, and her degree will prepare her
for where God calls her next.
"Spending time with others who are excited about sharing and
growing in their faith has helped me carry on in my own work."