Catholicism and the Common Good Summer Seminar

When: Thursday, June 25 to Saturday, June 27, 2020 
Where: University of Pennsylvania and Penn Catholic Newman Center
Seminar Description
The Collegium Institute is excited to introduce Catholicism and the Common Good, the summer session of CI’s Young Catholic Leaders Initiative for advanced high school students at the Penn Catholic Newman Center and on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus. 
Each day will focus on one of the ‘three necessary societies’ stipulated by Catholic Social Teaching, namely, the family, the state, and the Church. Through a combination of keynote lectures and seminars with Penn faculty, panel discussions and city tours with experts in local history, we will explore the principles undergirding Catholic thought on the common good by engaging with thinkers ranging from Augustine and Aquinas to Weil and Wojtyla, as well as seeking to apply those principles to our contemporary American context. 
This seminar is open to high school students who will be entering their junior or senior year in the Fall of 2021, and rising college freshmen.
Application Information
Applicants are required to submit the following: a cover letter explaining your interest in the seminar, your current unofficial transcript, and the email addresses of two faculty member references.The priority application deadline is Friday, May 1st, and the final application deadline is Friday, May 15th at 11:59pm. 
Collegium will continue to monitor the unfolding coronavirus situation.  As it stands, we are capping the number of admitted students to 20 in order to keep the gathering small as well as to facilitate optimal seminar conditions.  If, however, it proves impossible to host Catholicism and the Common Good as currently scheduled, the Collegium Institute will postpone the seminar. Any admitted applicants will be given the choice to attend Catholicism and the Common Good at the rescheduled date, or Collegium will refund the cost of the registration fee.  Please note that there is no cost to apply; students that are admitted and plan to attend will be required to pay a registration fee of $30. To apply, please click below.
Accepted students are expected to arrive at the Penn Catholic Newman Center at 9am on Thursday, June 25th for registration and breakfast. The Collegium Institute will provide breakfast and lunch on June 25th and June 26th, as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner on June 27th. The Collegium Institute will not provide overnight housing; students must coordinate with their parents to return home by the end of programming at 5:30pm on June 25-26, and 7:30pm on Saturday, June 27th.
Every morning after breakfast, students will participate in a two hour seminar on the philosophical and theological underpinnings of each of the three necessary societies: family, state, and Church.
Students will have the option of attending daily Mass at noon every day of the seminar, followed by lunch. 
After lunch, students will participate in a two hour seminar on the practical applications of the principles explored in the morning seminar, viewing the family, the state, and the Church through the lenses of intellectual history and political thought. 
Following the afternoon seminar, there will be a different activity every day ranging from scavenger hunts and poetry recitations to tours of the city and local museums. 
Below is a general outline of what students can expect each day. 
Day 1
Thursday, June 25th
The First Necessary Society: The Family
Persons and Relationships: On Friendship and Family
9:00-9:30am, Registration and Breakfast
9:45-11:45am, Morning Seminar: On Personhood, Friendship, and Marriage
12:00-12:30pm, Mass
12:30-1:30pm, Lunch
1:30-2:30pm, Guided Tour of Penn’s Campus
2:30-4:30pm, Afternoon Seminar: The History of the Family in America
4:30-5:30pm, Scavenger Hunt on Penn’s Campus
Day 2
Friday, June 26th 
The Second Necessary Society: The State
Souls in the State and the State of Souls: Community of Persons
9:00-9:30am, Breakfast
9:30-11:30am, Morning Seminar: On Justice and the State
12:00-12:30pm, Mass
12:30-1:00pm, Lunch
1:00-2:00pm, A Guided Tour of Sacred and Secular Philadelphia
2:00-4:00pm, How Americans Became Catholic
4:00-5:30pm, A Guided Tour of Sacred and Secular Philadelphia
Day 3
Saturday, June 27th
The Third Necessary Society: The Church
The Church in Society: Communion of Saints
9:00-9:30am, Breakfast
9:30-11:30am, Morning Seminar: The Church as Necessary Society
12:00-12:30pm, Mass
12:30-1:30pm, Lunch
1:30-3:30pm, Afternoon Seminar: Catholicism in Contemporary America: Religious Liberty and Incipient Integralism
3:45-4:45pm, Guided Tour of Renaissance Manuscript Exhibition
5:00-6:30pm, Panel Discussion on How Catholics Became American
6:30-7:30pm, Dinner
Students are required to have done the readings prior to their arrival on campus. Admitted students will receive a hard copy of the readings one month before the beginning of the seminar. Authors may include Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Leo XIII, Weil, Anscombe, and John Paul II, among others. 
The faculty members for this seminar are affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania and the Collegium Institute under the leadership of Prof. Daniel Cheely, Executive Director of the Collegium Institute, also the Executive Director and Perry Family Scholar of History, Religion & Culture, Program for Research on Religion & Urban Civil Society, at the University of Pennsylvania.
Admissions Information
Admitted students will be notified of their status by May 22nd. A $30 registration fee is required of all admitted students.
Please email Jose Perez-Benzo at

Gold Mass for Catholic Scientists

Join us for a special Gold Mass for Catholic scientists on March 21st!

Gold Masses are for Catholics who are or have been involved with science, including scientists, retired or former scientists, science teachers at any level, science graduate students and undergraduate science majors, as well as all of those with an interest in science, formal or informal.

The patron of this Mass is St. Albert the Great, a Dominican friar, born around 1206, noted for his great works in the natural sciences. Among his students were St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Albert is the patron saint of scientists.

There will be a reception following the Mass. All are very welcome to attend.

Young Catholic Leaders Initiative: On Reconciling Science and Religion

Register for the Inaugural Workshop of the Young Catholic Leaders Project on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. The first session, On Reconciling Science & Religion, will take place on Saturday March 21st, featuring two keynote lectures by world-renowned Catholic scientists and speakers, breakout seminars with peers and Collegium Institute facilitators, an interactive activity on science-faith-and-modern film, and a panel discussion on vocations in science, medicine, and engineering, along with a special Gold Mass for Catholic Scientists at midday!

Continental Breakfast, Lunch, and Light Dinner included with registration.

Not only for students with STEM interests, this workshop is geared toward all advanced high school students seeking to become Catholic leaders who are able to appreciate the harmonious relationship between the faith and the sciences. Registration will be limited. Preference will be given to Junior and Seniors who register by the deadline of Friday, March 13th. The system may close before either date if the program already has reached capacity.

After registration and breakfast, Dr. Daniel Cheely will kick off the day’s events with opening remarks on the mission of the Collegium Institute and his vision for the Young Catholic Leaders Initiative. Dr. Cheely is the Executive Director of the Collegium Institute, Resident Senior Fellow of the Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania and Lecturer in Penn’s History Department.

Following Dr. Cheely’s remarks, Prof. Stephen Barr, President of the Society for Catholic Scientists and Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the Unversity of Delaware, will give his keynote lecture at 9:45am. Breakout discussions will follow the lecture, after which there will be a Gold Mass for Catholic Scientists at St. Agatha-St. James Church at 12:15pm (click here to read more about the Gold Mass).

There will be a lunch reception immediately after the Gold Mass for Catholic Scientists. After lunch, at 2:00pm Dr. Marisa Cristina March, a cosmologist from Imperial College London and senior lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, will lead an interactive workshop on the topic of science and faith as presented in film.

At 3:15pm, Professor Peter Dodson, Professor of Anatomy at Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine as well as Professor of Paleontology at Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, will deliver his keynote lecture, followed by breakout discussions.

Finally, at 5:30pm there will be a panel discussion on the Vocation of Catholic Scientists, Engineers, and Medical Professionals moderated by Prof. Janice Chik, Barry Foundation Fellow and Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Collegium Institute’s Young Catholic Leaders Initiative is co-sponsored by the Penn Catholic Newman Center and the Society for Catholic Scientists and is made possible by a generous grant from the Connelly Foundation. 

Please see below for the link to RSVP and the full schedule of events. 

Annual Penn Club Reception: How Catholics Became American

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Discussing Michael Breidenbach’s new book with: 

  • Fr. Matt Malone, S.J., President and Editor in Chief, America Media 
  • Maura Jane Farrelly, Associate Professor of American Studies, Brandeis University 
  • Russell Hittinger, Warren Professor of Catholic Studies and Research Professor of Law at the University of Tulsa, and Co-Chair of Program in Catholic Social Thought at Lumen Christi Institute

Michael Breidenbach’s new book, How Catholics Became American, revises our understanding of the origins and meaning of the American principle of religious liberty. It describes how English and American Catholics—from the founder of Maryland to the Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence and the first Catholic bishop of the United States—answered challenges to their civil loyalty by denying papal infallibility and the pope’s authority to intervene in other countries. These reform-minded Catholics drew from an intellectual tradition that was rooted in Catholic thought yet compatible with a republican view of temporal independence, church-state separation, and religious liberty.

American Catholics of this sort fit their beliefs within early American ideologies and became important framers and founders in early America. As the pope’s authority is again severely challenged in America, this history will be critical for understanding the dynamics of dual loyalties, religious liberty, and religion in the public square today.

Collegium Institute’s Annual Penn Club Reception will explore these topics and more.



WHEN: Thursday, April 30

TIME: 6:00 PM

WHERE: The Penn Club of New York

More details and tickets coming soon!

The Art of Dying: CI’s Ars Vivendi Annual Arts Lecture​


  • Christian Wiman, renowned poet and Professor of the Practice of Religion and Literature, Yale Divinity School 
  • Lydia Dugdale, Director of the Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, Columbia University

Despite death’s inevitability, it is entirely human to possess a strong desire to live. This has enabled human beings to accomplish fantastic feats and beat insurmountable odds. Modern medicine is certainly among one of the greatest of these accomplishments. Diseases that were once catalysts for major epidemics have been forgotten. Even cancer has been somewhat tamed through the development of treatments and preventative measures for many of its forms. While developments such as these are noteworthy, they have also enabled us to push death further and further from our collective consciousness. Before many of the achievements of modern medicine, the care of the sick and dying was the domain of the clergy, family members, and friends. Dying was truly a community affair. 

What is it we want when we can’t stop wanting? And how do we make that hunger productive and vital rather than corrosive and destructive? What are the relationships between art and faith, death and fame, heaven and oblivion. How can we learn to embrace the art of dying well?

WHEN: Wednesday, April 1

TIME: 7:00 – 8:30 PM

WHERE: Cafe 58


Interfaith Service Trip

Join PRRUCS for a night of service w/ Christ in the City.

“A real kind of connection with someone, a sort of sharing of humanity. It doesn’t have to be long, but an encounter is when you’re actually looking into someone’s eyes and saying, ‘I see you, and I’m actually listening to you.’”

– Dr. Jonathan Reyes, 
Founder of Christ in the City


Join the Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society (PRRUCS) for a special Interfaith Service-Learning Project. On Friday, March 30th, from 5:30-8:30pm, we will join Christ in the City to help create a culture of encounter, where each person is seen, known, and loved. 

Pizza dinner will be available starting at 5:00pm. Required training begins at 5:30pm, followed by the project at 6, and debrief and reflection at 8pm.  

Please register on this google form below, and direct questions to Sam Hatfield:



WHEN: Friday, March 30

TIME: 5:30 – 8:30 PM


On the State of the Church in China

Please join the Penn Catholic Newman Community and the Collegium Institute for Catholic Thought & Culture for this most rare opportunity to converse with Joseph Cardinal Zen, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong. 

Cardinal Zen has been a heroic witness for the suffering yet growing Church in China for the last four decades and was notoriously labeled a member of the Hong Kong “Gang of Four” by Mainland Chinese state media.  

On Tuesday, October 18th, he visits Philadelphia to discuss the state of religious freedom in China, the persecution of Catholics and other Christians, and his own struggle to achieve liberty and democracy for his people. 


WHEN: Tuesday, February 18

TIME: 6:00 – 7:00 PM

WHERE: Penn Newman Center

Dual Allegiances: Christian, Jewish and Muslim Perspectives

This event seeks to foster dialogue on the relationships between religious traditions and civic identity, citizenship, and the American legal tradition. It will focus on the ways in which religious communities have answered charges of civil disloyalty and how religious believers representing Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions in America have understood and shaped their overlapping, sometimes conflicting, religious and political identities. 

Featured panelists:

Beth Wenger, Moritz and Josephine Berg Professor of History and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, University of Pennsylvania 

Michael Breidenbach, Research Associate at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania and Faculty Fellow at Collegium Institute

Adnan Zulfiqar, Assistant Professor of Law, Rutgers Law School

Rogers Smith, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

Faith & Reason: Theology of the Body and Human Ecology

Collegium Institute’s Faith & Reason Discussion Series convenes once a week to discuss theological questions through a variety of interdisciplinary lenses and texts. This semester, the theme is “Theology of the Body and Human Ecology,” and each session will be led by a distinguished facilitator.

This week we will be joined by Damon Owens, Director of JoyToB, as we explore “The Nuptial Meaning of the Body.” Please RSVP by clicking the button below and also find a digital copy of the full reader for Friday’s discussion!




Dates: January 31, February 7, February 14, February 21, February 28
Time: 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Location: Newman Center  

Click below to register.

Food for Thought Module V: Living with Death

Death has been alive and well in the world since the Fall of Man. Since that time, Death, the concept, the actual event, the figure, has permeated and haunted the human imagination.  From the cave paintings of Lascaux depicting hunting scenes to Death as narrator in Markus Zusak’s 2005 bestselling novel, The Book Thief, death has shown his face from prehistory to the current day. How do we then live with the knowledge of death? How are death, health and mortality entwined? Can we overcome death or must we instead make space for it within our daily living? To what extent is it the one answer to every deep question about life?  

Join us as we explore these questions and more, from historical approaches to dealing with death, to caring for the dying, and grieving with the aggrieved. In this 4-week module of Food for Thought, we’ll delve into this quintessential topic and explore it with the help of voices like Montaigne, Plato, Dorothy Day, Lydia Dugdale, Christian Wiman, Emily Dickinson, Carlos Eire, Marilynne Robinson and more.  This module will culminate with a special event taking place on April 1st, our second annual Ars Vivendi Lecture, featuring award-winning poet Christian Wiman and director of Columbia’s Center for Clinical Medical Ethics Lydia Dugdale, as they explore “The Art of Dying” in an evening conversation (find out more about this special event by visiting:



Collegium Institute Food for Thought, Dinner & Conversation
Dinner & Reader provided.

Wednesdays | 2/19, 2/26, 3/18, 3/25 | 5:45 – 7:00 PM 

Harrison College House Seminar Room M20