MOSAIC Spring 2014 - Page 26

Alumni Update Into theVineyard Alumni advancing the New Evangelization aa Kerri Lenartowick lives in Rome where she is pursuing her doctorate in theology at the Pontifical Lateran University while working as a journalist for Catholic News Agency. She earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology in 2009 and Licentiate of Sacred Theology in the New Evangelization in 2012 from Sacred Heart. She has worked for various pro-life organizations and speaks to women’s groups across the country. Coming Full Circle Kerri Lenartowick M 24 MOSAIC y love of the faith is foremost a gift of grace. It sounds cliché, but it’s true: I didn’t set out to have it, but God really provided a unique journey of faith for me that has led me to where I am. My father, who was a cradle Catholic, led the family to spend a few years in the Evangelical Protestant faith community. That is where I really learned to love the Lord. At the same time, my father and I continued to go to Mass. He was involved in the pro-life movement, and consequently so was I, from a very young age. About that time, I started attending the Catholic Youth 2000 weekend retreats. While I had fallen in love with Jesus as an Evangelical, I fell in love with him in the Eucharist through the many hours spent in adoration on the weekend Youth 2000 retreats. Throughout the years, I’ve found myself torn between all the academic learning (which can be fascinating or grueling, or both!) and somehow sharing all this knowledge with people in “the real world.” I love both, and I try to do both when I can. I love teaching, and I’d really love to do more of that. There’s something so fulfilling about helping people to encounter the Truth. People are usually shocked when they hear I have studied at a seminary and have no desire to be a priest. Studying at Sacred Heart in many ways helped to “round out” my theological education. I had begun studying theology because—it sounds simplistic, I suppose—because I loved Jesus. Over the years, theology became very “academic” for me, and the more spiritual Although she works in Rome as a journalist, Kerri Lenartowick’s goal is to teach theology: “Whether it’s a classroom, a parish setting, or even a retreat, these environments offer opportunities to hand on the truth in different ways.” aspect of it faded into the background. After a few years at Sacred Heart, it was as though God had brought me full circle. The best of my classes were academically strong, but the question of how to share this with others and live it personally was very present. This approach serves me well for where I am now: a journalist working in Rome in Catholic media reporting on papal activities and Church issues. My work as a journalist allows me to meet people from all walks in life. Recently, I was speaking with a doctor from Nigeria. She believes women in the West have a duty to speak out against a secular feminism that is oppressive to women, because it is moving eastward. She’s right. The UN and other organizations are pushing abortion and sterilization and contraception on women and young girls, all in the name of “reproductive freedom.” These practices are harmful to women, and in turn, men, children, and the wider culture. The more people I meet, the more I find that the element of “personal encounter” is key. Everyone, whether they are angry at the Church or don’t know anything about it, has a story—and they want someone to hear that story. Sometimes there’s nothing to be said at that moment besides a silent prayer. The act of listening can be a vehicle of grace. That was one thing that came up in just about every class at Sacred Heart. If you want to evangelize well, you’ve got to pray more!