From Those to Whom Much Has Been Given, Much is Expected: Vocation, Catholic Social Teaching, and the Culture of a Catholic Law School
Villanova Journal of Catholic Social Thought, Vol. 1, p. 361, 2004
56 Pages Posted: 4 May 2010
Date Written: September 1, 2004
As a professor at a new Catholic law school, which has as its mission the “integration of faith and reason in the search for truth through a focus on morality and social justice,” I have been giving a lot of thought to the concept of vocation, to Catholic Social Teaching (“CST”), and to the culture of law school. The more I thought about these topics, the more I realized that they were not separate, independent topics for me, but in fact, were deeply intertwined. I came to understand that one of the things that should be distinctive about a Catholic law school is that the culture of the law school should be permeated by a broad concept of vocation lived out with an appreciation for the themes of CST. As I looked through the literature on Catholic legal education, however, I found little about the spirit of Catholic legal education. This article is my effort to begin to explore what I think should be distinctive about the spirit of Catholic legal education – to explore how the culture of a Catholic law school imbued with a broad concept of vocation lived out through an appreciation for CST should look different than the culture of a secular law school.
This article begins with the premise that Catholic law schools should conceive of law school as a formation experience in which the law school purposefully and intentionally seeks to promote in its students an understanding of the law as a calling or a vocation and of law school as one aspect of a law student’s vocation. This article further suggests that an understanding of CST is important for students at Catholic law schools who are trying to live out their vocations as law students while trying to discern their calling or vocation within the law. The article then discusses how the “spirit” of a Catholic law school imbued with a broad concept of vocation lived out with an understanding of CST – how the culture and community created within such a Catholic law school – should look and feel demonstratively different than the culture and community presently reflected in secular law schools (and in many Catholic law schools), largely because law students who embrace a broad concept of vocation lived out with an understanding of CST should define success differently than students at secular law schools.
Keywords: vocation, culture, law school, social justice
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