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The Religion Department's philosophy centers itself on the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church. The department strives to help its students grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually by demonstrating that the Church is alive and working in today's world.

The department encourages and emphasizes the importance of prayer, sacraments and living the Catholic/Christian traditions. Religion classes encompass the experiential as well as the academic pursuit of religion and its values.

Pastoral Advising

While at Xavier, students are assigned a member of the Religion Department as a Pastoral Adviser. Through a series of one-on-one meetings students are able to discuss the various stresses and pressures they face in high school, both inside and outside the building while gaining wisdom and advice from faculty that they trust.

The Sacred Scriptures

Course #110, Full Year, 1 Credit, All Freshmen

The Introductory Unit: Introduction to Catholicism has been designed to provide an overview of essential and rudimentary Roman Catholic Teachings. In part one of this course, students will delve into the Old Testament focusing first on Biblical literacy, the stories of the Creation and God’s covenants with man. God’s saving power is seen by the students through the Exodus and the giving of the Law.

Students learn the trials and tribulations of Israel’s early monarchy, the prophetic legacy, the exile and the restoration, as a prelude to the coming of the Messiah. The spiritual values of the Xaverian Charism are highlighted throughout the course in the retelling of the Biblical stories.

In part two of this course, students will delve into the New Testament focusing on the Paschal Mystery: the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the spread of His Word and the development of the early Church. Freshmen Retreat Day includes a morning of community service. In addition, a drug education program is provided with outside resources.

Christ's Church and Her Sacraments

Course #120, Full Year, 1 Credit, All Sophomores

During the first semester, the discussion will focus on the history of the Church with a special focus on those events that directly pertain to sacramental practice and development and their roots in Christ. Starting with the foundation of the Church and the establishment of the Sacraments in the Apostolic times, moving forward into the Church Fathers, the Medieval Monastic and University movements, the Reformation and the Council of Trent, and finally the Second Vatican Council and the contemporary age.

The focus then shifts to an in depth look at the Sacraments themselves in contemporary practice, starting with an overview of the Sacraments and the liturgy, and moving on to the individual Sacraments themselves. The emphasis will remain on Christ as the person we receive and meet in the Sacraments. Throughout the course, connections are made with regard to the importance of living a sacramental life within the Church and its effect on human development-particularly with regard to one’s relationship with God, other persons and one’s sexuality.

This culminates with the study of the vocational sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony. This should allow each student to experience a greater and more complete understanding of themselves as a human person, one who is part of a larger community. In addition, a drug education program is provided with outside resources.

Foundations of Catholic Morality & Social Theology

Course #134, Semester Course, .5 Credit, All Juniors

In part one of this course, the Biblical and ecclesial foundations as well as the fundamental principles of Catholic morality and social justice are presented in a discussion format – supplemented with input from the teacher and other sources such as audio-visuals and outside readings.

The course attempts to help students to understand the nature and meaning of life, particularly, what it means to be truly human – through the logical use of reason and as members of human society – as well as what Jesus demonstrated and explained as the best way to express that humanity. The purpose of this course is to develop in the student an understanding of moral thought and social action so that they might have a positive effect on the society in which they live.

Applications of Catholic Morality & Social Theology

Course #136, Semester Course, .5 Credit, All Juniors

In part two of this course students will examine the practical application of the principles discussed in the first part of the course – with particular emphasis on the 10 Commandments – as essential to living a truly just and moral life in Christ. Students will study the call of the Gospel and Church teachings to choose life, to serve the least among us and to hunger and thirst for justice.

Finally, the students will be able to appreciate their personal call to build the Kingdom of God. This is achieved by taking as its standard, Christ’s command to love God and neighbor, thereby leading to a holistic expression of the Christian life.

Catholic Apologetics

Course #151, Semester Course, .5 Credit, Seniors

Apologetics is a one semester senior elective. Students will learn some of the logical, Biblical, theological and historical methods used to defend the Catholic faith. Consequently, students will gain the tools necessary for discerning the truth when faced with challenges, questions or doubts about the Catholic faith. “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (1Peter3:1).

The first part will examine natural apologetics (i.e. the relationship between faith and reason, the existence of God, etc.). The second part will explore Christian apologetics (i.e. the Divinity of Christ, the reality of the Resurrection, etc.). The third part will focus on Catholic apologetics (i.e. Mary, Saints, the Pope, Eucharist, etc). Incorporating parts 1-3, the final part of this course will examine how to respond to people of other faiths/beliefs who lack an understanding of these fundamental Catholic truths.

Christian Life: A Call to Holiness

Course #143, Semester Course, .5 Credit, All Seniors

In this one semester course, students will examine the lifestyles to which we are called by virtue of our baptism – the single life, ordained ministry, vowed religious life, and marriage. Attention is placed on personal development and life-long skills including the concepts of love, friendship, sexuality and communication as well as the topics of suffering, change and failure in our lives.

Students will be able to demonstrate the principles for effective decision making based on a set of core beliefs and values centered on a tradition that is both Christian and Xaverian. Finally, students will be able to appreciate and value the unique contributions of each lifestyle to our common vocation to bear witness to the Gospel in our world today.

Theology of the Body

Course #152, Semester Course, .5 Credit, Seniors

Using a great mix of stories, real-life examples, activities, prayers, and relevant references to the culture, Theology of the Body goes beyond traditional religion courses by connecting the two biggest topics on the planet-God and sex.

With Saint John Paul II’s compelling vision for love and life, and a language they understand, Theology of the Body answers the questions teens have about their own bodies, issues on sexual morality, and how they are uniquely created for greatness.

World Religions

Course #153, Semester Course, .5 Credit, Seniors

The purpose of this course is to help the students understand the manner in which the Catholic Church relates to non-Catholic Christians as well as to other religions of the world. Building on the foundational truth that Jesus Christ established the Catholic Church and entrusted to her the fullness of God’s Revelation, the course is intended to help students recognize the ways in which important spiritual truths can also be found in non-Catholic Christian churches and ecclesial communities as well as in non-Christian religions. It is also intended to help them to recognize the ways in which other systems of belief and practice differ from the Catholic faith.

Peace & Justice

Course #154, Semester Course, .5 Credit, Seniors

As followers of Jesus, we must live justice and peace. The mandate to put Catholic Social Teaching into practice is rooted in Jesus’ call to participate in the Kingdom of God, a vision introduced in the book of Genesis and described by the prophets. To live justice is to build a life of justice rather than simply learn about justice. In service to others we are living Jesus’ Word. By performing the actions of Jesus we too become liberators of the poor and vulnerable. In this way we are able to bring about positive change and peace in our world.

Religion Department Faculty

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Brendan Bell

Brendan Bell

Jeremy Fowler

Jeremy Fowler

William Garrity

William Garrity

John Guinan

John Guinan

Paul Kieda

Paul Kieda

Peter Lyons

Peter Lyons