Bishop to teach course, priest to direct new program for seminarians in Rome Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Thursday, May. 28, 2009 -- 12:00 AM
Bishop Robert C. MorlinoFr. Eric Nielsen
Bishop Robert C. MorlinoFr. Eric Nielsen

MADISON -- Some seminarians have the chance to study in Rome, but many others do not have that opportunity. Now they do.

A new six-week "Rome Experience" for seminarians in the U.S. and around the world will give them the opportunity to live and study in Rome, grow spiritually and intellectually, and gain a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the history of the Church, its liturgy, and its crucial role in shaping and guiding the culture and the world.

The Rome Experience will immerse seminarians in the historical, cultural, and spiritual richness of Christianity. Participants will attend liturgies at the Vatican and take courses -- accredited by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross -- that explore the great legacy of the first Christians and the origins of the Church in Rome.

Bishop to teach course

Bishop Robert C. Morlino, who is a member of the Bishops' Advisory Board for the program, will be teaching a course on "Philosophical Anthropology: the Human Person and Natural Law." His course will discuss who and what man is and the inherent dignity of the human person.

Relying heavily on the anthropology of Pope John Paul the Great and his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Bishop Morlino will explore the difficulties which arise from dualism and the minimization of man to a subjective reality. He will examine the very "glue" of the psycho-somatic union and how a proper understanding of this reality leads to the building of a culture of life and a proper view of human sexuality.

"We will examine how the law of God is written on the heart of man -- in man's very being -- and how that natural law can be understood by reason alone and should be the foundation of any society which operates according to reason," said Bishop Morlino in describing the course.

Bishop Morlino said of the Rome Experience, "I'm thrilled that I've been invited to be part of it."

Other bishops serving on the Bishops' Advisory Board are Bishop David R. Choby of Nashville, Tenn.; Bishop Alexander K. Sample of Marquette, Mich.; and Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo.

Priest to direct program

Also involved in the Rome Experience is Fr. Eric Nielsen, pastor of St. Paul's University Catholic Center in Madison. Father Nielsen is the program director and will teach a course on "Spirituality of the Priesthood" along with Fr. John Sims Baker, a priest of the Diocese of Nashville, Tenn., who is chaplain at Vanderbilt University.

Their course is combined with a monastic retreat at the Monastery of San Benedetto in Norcia that begins the Rome Experience. Norcia, a town in Umbria in central Italy, is the birthplace of St. Benedict.

Father Nielsen commented, "I am very excited to be heading up the first Rome Experience. It will be a lot of work making sure that the retreat in Norcia is run well and to coordinate all the activities.  

"We have three different locations that we are staying in while in Rome, no small number of visiting bishops, priests, and instructors, plus a large number of planned cultural visits.  

"The hope is that the seminarians' six weeks in Rome will lead them to a deeper spiritual understanding of the faith, a greater appreciation for the liturgy, and a functional knowledge of the the Church's universality," said Father Nielsen.  

Other priests involved and their dioceses include: Fr. Pablo Gadenz, Trenton, N.J.; Msgr. James P. Moroney, Worcester, Mass.; Msgr. C. Eugene Morris, St. Louis, Mo.; Fr. Francesco Giordano, Albenga-Imperia, Italy; Fr. Roger Landry, Fall River, Mass.; and Fr. Ramil Fajardo,  Chicago, Ill.

Two seminarians from diocese

Among about 20 seminarians participating in this first Rome Experience are two from the Diocese of Madison: Justin Hall, a first-year theology student studying at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colo., and Garrett Kau, a second-year pre-theology student at the same seminary in Denver.

More information on the program may be found at

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