Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Neuhaus Invades Poland

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Neuhaus Invades Poland

Article excerpt

Fr. Neuhaus had a missionary zeal, a fervor for argument and conversation in defense of the faith he loved so passionately. First Things was, of course, the vehicle by which that virtue presented itself to society at large. But First Things is only one of his legacies. One of the richest of the many he left us is the Tertio Millenio seminar, which he cofounded with Fr. Maciej Zieba, Rocco Buttiglione, George Weigel, and Michael Novak in 1992.

The seminar takes place over three weeks each summer at the Dominican priory in Krakow, Poland. Its intent, as described in its official pamphlet, is "to deepen the dialogue on Catholic social doctrine between North American students and students from the new democracies of central and eastern Europe."

It was my privilege to attend the seminar in 1998, and through the years everything we learned thereabout Catholic social teaching, the thought of John Paul II, a vibrant Christian culture, and the friendship whose root is the Lord- has rippled out into the lives of the Tertio alumni. Many of us today are sisters and seminarians, teachers and writers, fathers and mothers. Now living out that last vocation, I regularly find myself moved anew by my time in Krakow. The seminar's gift is more than the excitement of studying with Catholic intellectuals and clever Eastern Europeans. Like so many of Fr. Neuhaus' gifts to those who loved him, it is one that, having been planted by a most assiduous farmer in the soil of young hearts, grows over a lifetime.

His annual arrival in Krakow was anticipated with glee by all and, in the typical Polish Dominican way, arrangements for delivering him to the priory were conducted with manic efficiency. It was a testament to his pleasure in the seminar that he made the journey from New York sixteen summers in a row, always bringing for the staff a bottle of what became known as "Jack Daniels, O.P." He appeared in class the following day, apparendy immune to jet lag, and began to lecture on Centesimus Annus.

Most of us knew him through his writing, but few had witnessed him in his full extempore glory. He spoke on the value of the human person made in the image of God, on the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity that are fundamental to a just society, and on the dangers consumer culture poses to spiritual values. …

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