Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Faculty: Sister Gertrude Feick, OSB

Bryce Lungren is the second seminarian who will have his journalism work featured in the upcoming issue of the Catholic Sentinel that has a special focus on Mount Angel Seminary.  He contributes a profile of one of the seminary's new faculty members.

Making St. Benedict Proud: Mount Angel Seminary Welcomes Sister Gertrude
by Bryce Lungren
Photos by Sandra Chiodo

Mount Angel Seminary has always been dedicated to providing seminarians with a superb education.  An excellent example of this scholarly pride is the recent appointment of Sister Gertrude Feick, OSB, as an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies.

Sister Gertrude during a class at Mount Angel Seminary
 Sister Gertrude has just completed three years of study at the Angelicum, a Pontifical University in Rome, where she has been working on earning her Licentiate of Sacred Theology (STL) in Spiritual Theology.

This fall semester, Sister Gertrude is teaching Introduction to Christian Spirituality as well as assisting in Liturgy Documents.  Next spring, she is scheduled to teach Historical Introduction to Theology, Christian Spirituality and Practicum, and to team-teach Theology of the Liturgy with Father Paschal Cheline, OSB.

Sister Gertrude explained how the bar has been raised for those involved in seminary education.  No longer it is just priests and religious teaching theology; it is whoever is the most qualified, which is often lay professors.  In this regard, one could say that seminary employment is not much different than corporate America, which Sister Gertrude knew well before entering Queen of Angels Monastery eleven years ago.

However, unlike the competitive corporate world, Mount Angel Seminary professors collaborate to bring out the best in one another.  Sister Gertrude said that Mount Angel Seminary is such a wonderful environment to work in because "you can find people who are very willing to support and help a person to do what he or she needs to do.  In my case, I am still trying to finish my degree."

 Sister Gertrude, who has also taught at secular institutions, said that she would not want to go back to teaching in a public school.  "What interests me," she said, "is to be in this type of setting and work for God and the Church."

Sister Gertrude with Frank Villanueva
 One of the positive changes Sister Gertrude has found in teaching is the continual education she must undergo in order to be prepared for her students, although, she said, "what privilege for me too, because I have to study in order to teach.  It's not as if I already know it all."  A seminary professor gets the double duty: they are a teacher and also a student.

Fr. Paschal, the Director of Spiritual Formation at Mount Angel Seminary, considers Sister Gertrude to be a good friend who is entertaining and enjoyable to be around.  He also said that "we are blest to have her on the faculty because she takes her classes and her work very seriously and is really concerned that her students gain knowledge in this realm of spirituality."

Sister Gertrude plans to return to Rome this spring to complete the requirements for her STL, which includes comprehensive exams.  She hopes to continue teaching at Mount Angel Seminary in the years to come but is quick to state: "I also know because I've had enough work and life experience that anything can change.  There are no guarantees in life."

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