As a young agnostic accustomed to mocking Christians for their superstitious views, I hardly expected to spend five years studying at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome in preparation for the priesthood.
I long assumed that Christians were gullible intellectual lightweights who needed to avoid serious reflection at all costs to maintain their silly fairy tale beliefs. I also assumed that their dogmatism rendered them narrow-minded bigots.
This past half-decade devoted to philosophical and theological students gainsaid both of my prejudices. At Regina Apostolorum, I was immersed in the thought of rigorous Christian scholars like Augustine, Aquinas, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI and was equipped to engage constructively with thinkers at times hostile to the faith. In addition to these meticulous studies, my university experience brought me in contact with cultures and traditions foreign to my more limited experience as an agnostic.
Years of studies in an international student body enabled me to chat with, study with, play sports with, and pray with classmates from Brazil, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Spain, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, and other nations. My horizons were constantly expanded through conversations, regional festivities like the Advent posadas, and liturgical celebrations like ordinations in the Syro-Malabar rite. Thus, Reginia Apostolorum has exposed me to a depth of intellectual life and a breath of cultural diversity in the Catholic tradition that exceed anything I knew as a secular humanist.
These years of formation at Regina Apostolorum rich in intellectual, spiritual, and cultural growth would not be possible without the generous support of our benefactors around the world. While I may not have the pleasure of meeting all of the them in person, I can ensure them of my constant prayers. May God reward their contributions to my priestly formation and ministry.
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