I had thought about my faith in high school, but not in the way that brought much contemplation or depth of meaning. I did not have the means or the example to critically think about that which was most foundational to who I was. My faith was very detached from the life of my mind, a dangerous proposition for any questioning young adult. I had faith, but no understanding. I wasn't really even seeking understanding. This faith that I had didn't really have roots or the capacity to grow and sustain me without theology: faith seeking understanding.
I am grateful for my Theology classes at Notre Dame for introducing me to an intellectual faith, one that fits more with my personality and has had the ability to grow and change as I have grown and changed. My theology classes at Notre Dame assisted me to develop a more mature faith, capable of growing and carrying me into my adult life. I was introduced to the great thinkers and the theology behind the traditions I believed whole-heartedly. Through my classes, I was given a language with which to speak about my faith and my identity.
I ended up minoring in Theology, only because I had used all of my elective classes to pursue my newfound love: thinking, writing, and discussing my faith. If it weren't for the two required courses, I probably would not have thought to explore theology. I was very complacent in my emotion-based, heart-faith, which I now know is only part of the equation. My Foundations of Biblical theology was eye-opening, but it was my second required course that I took with John Meier on Christology that opened my eyes to the intellectual tradition of the Church. I explored the Sacraments with Max Johnson and had my world turned on its head in Fagerberg's Theology of the Mass and G.K. Chesterton classes. One of my only regrets was not having enough time to take more theology classes at Notre Dame. I would have wanted to double-major if biochemistry wasn't so difficult and the labs time-consuming.
Now teaching science in a Catholic school with a majority non-Catholic student body, my intellectual faith gives me the means to evangelize. I have a faith that has and can continue to grow up with me into my adult life. I still think about and reference works we read in our classes. It's hard to express how much my theology classes mean to me because they have so quickly become a part of who I am and how I think about the world. I wonder what my life would be like if I hadn't actively and intellectually pursued my faith in college. I remember starting ND complacent in my faith--how wrong I was and how much more I had (and still have) to learn.