The Catholic University of America

June 17, 2011

Rising Seniors Attend Catholic Social Teaching Symposium in New York

  John Eby and Kailyn Chasse pose during a boat tour of New York.

Two rising CUA seniors got a head start on their final year of college last month when they attended a Catholic social teaching symposium in New York City.

Kailyn Chasse, a nursing major from Fremont, N.H., and John Eby, a classics and politics major from North Potomac, Md., participated in the May 22-27 symposium — titled “Yearning to be more: ensuring God a place in the public realm” — with approximately 50 other college students. The Path to Peace Foundation and the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations sponsored the annual event.

During their time at the symposium, the students got a chance to listen to high-profile speakers, including Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations; James Nicholson, former ambassador of the United States to the Holy See and former secretary for Veterans Affairs; and New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

They learned about Catholic social teaching, religious freedom, the Israel-Palestine conflict, diplomacy, life issues, and an economically just society. The week also included a tour of New York City, including a visit to Ground Zero.

“After attending this symposium, I learned how the Church is working from the inside to better the world and live the message of Christ,” Eby says. “The Holy See’s Mission to the United Nations is really a testament to that.”

The student hopes to take what he learned and apply it to his life. “Catholic social teaching rests on the principle that the Gospel needs to be applied in every aspect of your life and after attending the symposium, I realize how critical this is both on larger scales — like in resolutions at the United Nations — but also at smaller, more personal levels,” he explains.

The students got a chance to tour the United Nations, including the General Assembly Hall.

Eby said that a highlight of the trip was getting to know the other students. “After every lecture, we would discuss what we thought about that talk, what we liked, what we didn't understand, and how it went along with what else we had heard,” he explains. “Everyone had a different background and outlook on Catholic social teaching, and learning about their many different approaches spurred how much I was able to take away.”

Chasse, who said the trip’s highlight for her was touring the United Nations, walked away from the conference “feeling empowered as an individual.”

“As a nursing major, I am very interested in social justice and Catholic social teaching,” she says. “I felt that this conference not only gave me a better understanding of the workings of international affairs, but it also gave me food for thought as to how I might be able to make some small changes that will make the world a better place.”

Chasse adds that she hopes to spend time abroad in volunteer service after graduation and that the knowledge she gained from the symposium will guide her in international work.

Catholic University began sending students to the Path to Peace symposium in 2007. Each year, several junior undergraduate students are nominated by staff in student life, campus ministry, admissions, and athletics. Students are selected based on their scholarship, leadership, and commitment to the University.

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