A lengthy thesis written at the end of one’s time as an undergraduate or graduate student is not uncommon in fields of study like theology. However, many of these theses have existences of quiet anonymity and are not read by more than the director and perhaps a few dedicated friends and family. Not so at the Theology Department! Here, MA students students are required to present their theses in a public forum, and then they are to field questions from those in attendance. Thus they are tested not only in their ability clearly to articulate theological truths that they have prepared beforehand, but also must think on their feet and apply theological principles and their learning to the various questions that arise.
For those familiar with academic conferences, this sort of format is not unfamiliar. This is keeping with the overall vision of Ave Maria University in general and of the Theology Department in particular. The Theology Department strives to engage in faithful theological work that is likewise rigorously done by students who are prepared to engage with the current theological discussions. Giving students an opportunity to publically present their papers is yet another way to help them train and prepare for engaging with contemporary theology.
Some titles of the theses presented were: Love and Justification (Andrew Natali), Brain Death: A Valid Criterion? (Therese Villaca), The Doctrinal Continuity of Religious Freedom in the Catholic Tradition (Chadwick Medel) and Donec Requiescat in Te: A Thomistic Account of the Necessity of Knowledge and Love in the Beatific Vision (Rocky Brittain), and several others. As can be seen, these theses span the breadth of theological inquiry including systematic theology, moral theology, theology of the body and various other focuses.
While perhaps an occasion of stress for the students who must present, nevertheless, they are a true highlight to the program and give students a real opportunity to manifest all that they have learned and all the ways that they have grown through the course of the program.