I regret not doing it sooner: Experiencing the Splendor of Truth
I am a retired high school English teacher, but my favorite title is grandma. My husband Tony and I have four grown children and eight living grandchildren. We live on the family farm east of Fairfax. I was born and raised in Rapid City. I attended St. John the Evangelist grade school and St. Martin Academy back when its students were all girls. I received all my sacramental preparation in my home parish, Blessed Sacrament. In my retirement, I have taken on the job of Director of Religious Education for the combined program that serves the parishes of St. Anthony, Fairfax and Immaculate Conception, Bonesteel. I have been a teacher in parish religious education for nearly 40 years.
I joined Veritatis Splendor Institute in the fall of 2019. I had wanted to take the course, and it had been recommended to me by alumni, but until 2016 I was still teaching full time. I retired a bit early in no small part because we were expecting two new grandchildren in the fall of that year. In 2019 my mom died, and we lost a grandchild at six weeks old. When VSI blipped back on my radar that summer, I applied. Religious Education has become a bigger part of my life in retirement. Now that I’m the oldest catechist in the parishes I was being looked to for wisdom, and I didn’t feel very wise. It was time to take VSI.
One of my biggest challenges in deciding to apply was the 285-mile one-way drive to Rapid City. It’s not like I didn’t know the way, I had made many trips out for my mother in the last few years of her life. Once a month all year round just seemed like a lot, but valuable things cost. The only question was, would it be worth it? Absolutely!
It is an integrated program for the formation of Catholic witnesses that focuses not on just acquiring intellectual knowledge, but on personal and spiritual development. Graduates don’t try to wing it when it comes to questions about the faith. If we don’t know the answer, we know who or what to consult to find it. There is a network of teachers and fellow graduates that we can go to for help. VSI has equipped me to function as a Catholic in the culture around me, a culture more and more disagreeable, at times even hostile, to the Catholic faith. The confidence and support I have gained are some of the practical fruits of this experience. In addition, the emphasis on prayer and the spiritual life has given me a stable center from which to work and to which I may go for encouragement in my daily living of the Gospel.
If you are considering applying to VSI, do it. If you aren’t, consider it seriously. If you are a parent, grandparent, godparent, aunt, or uncle, if you have any connection to the next generation of Catholics, take the course. If I regret anything about my time in VSI, it is that I didn’t do it sooner. I do so wish I could have taken it when I was a young mom. I would have raised my children and engaged with the world better. If you are wondering what you can do for the faith in these troubled times, VSI is one very good answer. I came for one year and stayed for two more, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Learn more about the Veritatis Splendor Institute
The Basic Certification course presents an in-depth study of the four pillars of our Faith and an introduction to catechetical methodology. Delving into the fundamental mysteries of the Catholic Faith, liturgical worship and sacraments, principles and values of moral theology, the traditions of prayer and spirituality and the saints, this course will lead to the primary aim and mission of the Church: to draw all people to an intimate encounter with the living God. It will also explore concrete useful methods for evangelization and catechesis, in our families and in our communities, while offering enrichment courses on a variety of practical topics for everyday life and growth in Christ. Additionally, regular prayer, the Holy Mass, a retreat, and formation groups provide a setting and opportunity to grow in that personal relationship with Jesus Christ.