Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Fr. Raymond Studzinski: Educating Church Leaders

by Mary Jeanne Schumacher

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Saint Meinrad's longtime mission of educating Church leaders means it's no surprise that many of the Benedictine monks are teachers and administrators in the Seminary and School of Theology.

It may be surprising, however, to learn that one of the monks lives out his monastic vocation by teaching hundreds of miles from the monastery.

For 37 years, Fr. Raymond Studzinski, OSB, has been a member of the faculty at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Fr. Raymond joined the monastery in 1964. A native of Michigan, he came to Saint Meinrad for his senior year of high school and then continued his priesthood studies here. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1969, he began further studies in religion and spirituality.

He earned a master's degree in religious studies from Indiana University in 1973 and then went to Fordham University, where he earned a doctorate in historical theology in 1977.

He was working as a research fellow at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, KS, when he was approached by Catholic University to join the faculty in what is now called the School of Theology and Religious Studies.

"I came here to teach and that's still my major responsibility," he says. His courses include "Psychology and Religion," "Personality and Religious Development," "Ministry of Spiritual Direction" and "Religion and Feelings."

His students run the gamut from undergraduates to doctoral students, and from seminarians to professional ministers.

As an associate professor, Fr. Raymond is educating and forming the next generation of Church leaders. "These people are typically going out to work for the Church," he says of the graduate students in his classes. "You are training people who are going to be running education programs in the diocese or forming other people through their teaching."

"Even with the undergraduates, you're hoping that what you're teaching is also somewhat formative for them, in terms of their own faith life," he notes. "We (CUA's priest faculty) all see it as part of our service to the Church."

He is also involved with a doctoral program at Catholic University that is primarily online, but includes a short residency period. "There you're working, typically, with much more seasoned ministers, people in midlife or even a bit later, who are coming to continue their own professional development." Several Saint Meinrad administrators have been enrolled in the program in recent years.

Since these students are usually already in ministry, they come up with a final project to implement instead of writing a doctoral dissertation. Often the project is tied directly to the student's ministry, he says.

Fr. Raymond's work also extends into several other areas, including writing and publishing. He has written numerous articles and book chapters, as well as two books, Reading to Live: The Evolving Practice of Lectio Divina (2009) and Spiritual Direction and Midlife Development (1985). A third book is planned on spiritual direction.

He also has a variety of administrative duties, such as advising students, serving as director of the school's Catechetics area, and directing doctoral dissertations.

In addition, on weekends he is chaplain to a community of Benedictine sisters in nearby Bristow, VA. He occasionally gives retreats as well, with two planned already scheduled for this summer.

His Benedictine formation is evident in the hospitality that Fr. Raymond demonstrates. Whether teaching in the classroom, serving as guest master of the building where he lives, or welcoming confreres who are in D.C. to study or visit, he exhibits the kindness and generosity of spirit that are central to his life as a monk.

"Your formation at Saint Meinrad becomes a part of you," he says, "and it shows in the classroom, in the liturgy and in the sense of hospitality that you're trying to create."

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.