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Teachers chosen for June conference
archived from: 2012-05-14
by: Chuck Moody, Associate Editor

Program centers on faith and modern science

Eight teachers from four diocesan high schools — two teachers each from four schools — have been selected to represent the northeastern United States at the Steno Learning Program in Faith and Science in June in Covington, La.

The goal of the program is to educate science and religion teachers from Catholic high schools throughout the United States regarding the relationship that exists between the Catholic faith and modern science so as to assist them in educating their own students.

The program is named after the Catholic saint and scientist Blessed Nicholas Steno (1638-86), and it will be hosted by the Pope Benedict XVI Institute for Faith, Ethics and Science of McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile, Ala. Through the program, the institute seeks to help Catholic high school teachers in their mission of forming young Catholics into believing thinkers and thinking believers for Christian leadership in the third millennium.

Donald Teti, assistant superintendent for secondary schools of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, said he received a telephone call from Dr. Christopher Baglow, program moderator, who was calling all of the dioceses in the United States to see if he could assemble 16 religion teachers and 16 science teachers, eight from each region of the country, to come together at St. Joseph Seminary in Covington June 17-23.

“He sent me the details that I passed on to the high schools in the diocese,” Teti said. “They responded that at least five schools would be interested and committed to help. The first four that responded were Oakland Catholic, Serra Catholic, Seton-LaSalle and Central Catholic. Quigley Catholic also responded, but they were too late to be selected.”

The teachers from the diocese who will take part in the program are: James Lear and Maria Colonna of Oakland Catholic; Jeff Voelker and Tim Crossen of Serra Catholic; Meloni DiPietro-Guthoerl and Stefani Sobol-Pastor of Seton-LaSalle; and Michael Traficante and Brad Leeman of Central Catholic.

“Over the past five years, this diocese has spent two in-service days trying to get all of the religion and science teachers together to make sure that science curriculum reflects church teachings and that good science is reflective of the faith of Jesus Christ. Students need to learn that belief in the Catholic Church is reflective in good science curriculum. The institute will give teachers more tools to communicate that to students,” Teti said.

“The hope is that by bringing all of these teachers from all over the United States, that teachers will develop a network connection with each other and the Institute for Faith, Ethics and Science, which will lead to ongoing learning and education around these topics. It will also give a reference to answer any questions that come from students of a deeper and more reflective nature.” Baglow was enthused that the teachers from the high schools in Pittsburgh were participating, Teti said.

“This is a big honor in the sense that we received all of the slots in the northeast region because of our excellence and our ongoing efforts in this area of curriculum,” he said.

The program will involve seminars on the relationship between Catholic theology and science. A seven-day seminar curriculum will include readings and discussions on the major issues in the faith-science relationship, such as church history, sacred Scripture and modern science, and evolution and faith. The relationship will be considered from three angles: scientific, philosophical and theological.

The teachers participating in the week-long learning program will receive a library of books to be read in preparation for the seminar and a $350 stipend for participation. All expenses except travel will be covered for the participants.

The Steno Learning Program 2012 is funded in its entirety by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

The diocese’s high school curricula continuously works to tie its teaching to the Catholic faith, Teti said.

“We attempt to stay on our mission of being Catholic, even though about 15 percent of our students are non-Catholics,” he said. “It is clear to everyone who works in the schools that we are mission-driven and all policies and procedures reflect church teachings.

“To be involved with a national organization such as the Institute for Faith, Ethics and Science simply adds to our ability to improve our resources to better teach faith and science.”




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