By Kaleb Lucero ’18
Although students may be religiously diverse, they often come to gather around an understanding of the Abrahamic god as the god of mercy, said Mr. Paul Fisko, who teaches Encountering Jesus in the Sacraments.
Brophy offers a wide variety of religious, theological and spiritual classes to its students, some of which students are required to take. However, how do these classes ultimately affect our beliefs, from the beginning to end of our Brophy career?
“The first thing I would say about diversity of religious belief and practice here at Brophy is that we have a strong diversity,” Mr. Fisko said. “We get so many students from different Catholic parishes, that have a wide variety of ways they are attentive to the Catholic faith.”
He said that the expression of faith, how conservative the expression of faith is, and how politically involved it is varies with each parish, and causes diverse beliefs just among Catholic students.
However, students also come from a wide variety of different faith traditions and religious backgrounds outside of the Catholic Church, all of whom contribute to diversity on campus.
“We also have students who are coming from other Christian denomination backgrounds,” Mr. Fisko said. “We have representatives of Judaism here… who practice Judaism in their family life. Plenty of the Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus are represented here at Brophy… and my understanding is that many of them observe their religion.”
With this variety of belief and religion, Mr. Fisko said that what happens here is still typical of a Catholic educational institution, in that everyone is offered the same religious classes on Catholicism.
“So our understanding of Catholicism, because we are a Catholic school, starts to coalesce a little bit, whether you’re a Catholic or a non-Catholic,” he said. “You start to have a coalescing of what you know about the Church that is valuable, and what you know Catholicism thinks is valuable.”
Mr. Tim Broyles, a Senior Synthesis teacher, also said that students are encouraged to grow in understanding their faith, regardless of religious background.
However, he said that most students come here “entrenched into a particular way of saying things, and they need to be more open to growth.”
Mr. Broyles said that due to the classes here, and because of study that students have done in a variety of subjects, from history to english to theology, they are more authentically faithful.
This reflection, he said, encourages students to reconsider their beliefs, and in the end, it creates a faith that is much more genuine.
“Obviously we want kids to embrace their faith and be religious, but we want it to be authentic,” he said. “To be faithful in that sense is not to accept the answers we’re given, like a child, but to live in the paradoxes of your faith, more humbly, more humanely.”
He said that students at this age begin to separate themselves from the faith of their parents, and that hopefully, by genuinely entering into the experiences offered at Brophy, such as immersions and retreats, these same students will grow.
“I think the result is not only a person of deeper faith, but a more authentic person, intellectually, morally and spiritually,” Mr. Broyles said.
Mr. Fisko said that this reevaluation of faith happens no matter what religion someone follows.
“At Brophy, no matter what faith background you come from, you have them coalescing around the idea that the God of Islam, the God of Judaism, the God of Sikhism, the God of Christianity, is calling everyone to the idea of love, the idea of service, the idea of sacrifice, mercy, justice and equality,” Mr. Fisko said.
Mr. Broyles described this openness to diversity by saying that Brophy is not only “‘big c’ Catholic, but ‘little c’ Catholic as well.”
“We’re ‘little c’ catholic in that we welcome diversity, but we’re big C catholic in that we stay faithful to the catholic tradition.”
“I have all types of religions in one class, and they sit together, and they sit in small groups, and I think what they feel is that, despite their religions being different, they have a great deal in common in their faith and belief. That is the gift that Brophy brings,” he said.
“They have a similarity in their faith and their willingness to be open to the possibility that others might have truthful things to tell them.”