Recent Athenaeum graduate Melicia Antonio has been granted a University Presidential Fellowship from the University of Notre Dame to study a PhD in Moral Theology. The fellowship – which includes a full tuition scholarship, a generous living stipend, and other benefits- has a total worth of 90,000 USD per year for the five years of the Ph.D. program, with the possibility of a sixth-year stipend for post-doctoral work.
The University of Notre Dame is a leading American research institution located in South Bend, Indiana. Admission is highly selective: approximately 10% of graduate applicants are enrolled, and of these, less than 15% are selected by their departments and the graduate school to receive the additional support of a fellowship. As described on the Notre Dame website, the fellowships “recognize outstanding performance in undergraduate studies as well as promise in graduate studies and professional life,” and help enable students to devote themselves full-time to academic work.
Melicia received her degrees in Religious Sciences (2007), STB (2016), and STL in Moral Theology (2019) from the Regina Apostolorum. She completed her STL thesis on the passion of anger as taught by Thomas Aquinas and hopes to research this topic in relation to virtue formation in cultures imbued with systemic corruption. “I specialized in Fundamental Moral Theology during my STL studies and became fascinated with the thought of Aquinas and Servais Pinckaers,” she says. “I would now like to apply what I have learned to a topic within Catholic Social Teaching. Persons who suffer under systemic corruption tend to see it as an insurmountable obstacle that can only be overcome by forcing a change of government or migrating to a more just country. I propose to focus on the solution of a slow cultural change in which formation in virtue ethics plays a key role. Anger, after all, is a reaction that springs up when we are faced with injustice; it is born of a strong desire to restore justice. Depending on how we handle our anger, it can degenerate into vice or it can fuel heroic acts at the service of justice in our communities, and thus be effective in combatting corruption.”
Melicia studied and worked for eight years in Mexico and is interested in focusing her research on Latino communities. “Notre Dame offers an advantage in that the Theology Department has theologians who focus on Latino theology, as well as theologians doing important work in the field of Thomistic ethics, such as Jean Porter and William Mattison,” she notes.
At Notre Dame she will be joining other, Regina Apostolorum graduates who have sought post graduate studies there, including Fr. Vincenz Heereman, LC who is currently pursuing a PhD in Judaism and Christianity. Reflecting on her past and future Melicia commented: “I am excited to become a part of Notre Dame’s dynamic graduate community and am very grateful to the university for this opportunity. I also look back with great gratitude to my professors and colleagues at the Athenaeum, and to the benefactors who made my scholarship at the Regina Apostolorum possible. My dream would be to come back to Rome someday and teach Moral Theology, and contribute in some small way to the great discussions going on in the Church and society today in this crucial field of research.”