Independent study on saints’ writings transforms faith

| May 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
Joe Seidel

Joe Seidel

When Bethlehem Academy senior Joseph Seidel’s plans to take a probability and statistics course through Northwestern University in St. Paul fell through last year, he took an independent study on saints’ writings instead.

“I was at a loss for what to do, and I had to talk to my parents about what might be the next step,” Seidel said about taking a replacement class.

The course at Bethlehem Academy intensified his faith journey at the Faribault Catholic high school. It also improved his preparation for joining St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul this fall.

The school offers independent study as an option for students, but students rarely choose a subject on religion, said Director of Admissions Kris Sauer. Working with theology teacher Sara Heselton, Seidel read writings by St. Augustine, St. Teresa of Kolkata, St. Francis de Sales and St. Teresa of Avila.

“The biggest thing I got out of it was the importance of qualities within my relationship with God, with two in particular: charity and patience,” said Seidel, a member of Divine Mercy in Faribault. “Because you would read about the saints and see these miraculous things they experienced, and you want to go for it right away, but it’s about waiting for yourself to be ready for that. The biggest thing each of them stressed is charity.”

The course deepened his desire to respond to a call to priesthood, which he has felt since the first grade.

It would be wrong not to do God’s will, he said. “The gift that I can give to him is through charity and myself.”

Seidel completed projects and reflections on each saint’s writings. The course included writing his own confessions of faith based on “The Confessions of St. Augustine” and creating a poster about St. Teresa of Avila’s “Interior Castle.” The poster depicts a winding path to mansions, which Teresa used to represent stages of spiritual growth.

He also has found creative outlets in theater, choir and band, where he plays the clarinet. Seidel does service projects as a member of the school’s National Honor Society, and he serves on the student council.

He sees the Dominican pillars of faith, which Bethlehem Academy emphasizes, lived out in the activities in which he participates. The four pillars are ministry, prayer, study and community.

“It’s about bringing each other into union with God,” Seidel said.

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Category: Graduation