I Could Never Have Imagined Just How Much There Is To Learn!

My name is Elizabeth Schick. I am originally from Michigan (USA) and I am a graduate of the STM program (2018) and current STL student at the ITI. Before coming to the ITI for the master’s program in 2016, I had received a 4-year bachelor’s degree in German Literature, Language, and Culture from Central Michigan University (2014). During my undergraduate studies, I frequently found ways to incorporate theology and faith into my projects, papers, and presentations, so when I spent my third year of college as an exchange student in Karlsruhe, Germany, I was delighted to be able to officially take theology and philosophy classes for the first time, solidifying my love for theology. After graduating from Central Michigan in 2014, I returned to Germany for another year, where I lived in community and spent a semester studying theology at St. Georgen in Frankfurt.

Upon returning home again in 2015, I was able to work as a research assistant for a doctoral student writing his dissertation on Romano Guardini. My job was to read through the German-language secondary literature on Guardini, providing outlines of each text with keywords, and alerting the doctoral student to sections that might be relevant to his work. In addition, I helped edit his English translation of Guardini’s Liturgische Bildung. The more I did this sort of work, the more I realized that I wanted to return to Europe and study theology. I had heard about the ITI from a friend who had considered the STL program here, and I was attracted to the idea of living in a German-speaking area while studying and living in an English-speaking Catholic community, so I decided to apply and was accepted into the fourth year of the STM program.

            The STM program at the ITI was the most challenging and rewarding academic program I had ever participated in. I discovered (and am still discovering!) the depths of our theological tradition, and it has been a joy to be intellectually and spiritually formed by the great masters, including the Church Fathers and especially St. Thomas Aquinas. Before coming here, I could never have imagined just how much there is to learn! For the first time in my life, I discovered an academic discipline that was capable of taking everything I had to give - I was able to apply myself wholeheartedly to my studies, and I have been amazed at how much fruit these studies have born personally, spiritually, and academically. The highlight of the program for me was writing the master’s thesis, which was an opportunity for me to integrate everything I had learned and use it to do something “new” that was yet deeply rooted in the Catholic tradition.

This past February, I had the honor to represent the ITI at an international conference on “Aquinas the Biblical Theologian” at Ave Maria University in Florida, where I was able to present a condensed version of my master’s thesis. The conference itself was a wonderful opportunity to network and share ideas with scholars from around the US and the world, including Drs. Scott Hahn, Brant Pitre, Matthew Levering, Michael and Susan Waldstein, and many others. I was delighted to find that my studies at the ITI had prepared me well to be able to engage critically with the presentations, and to learn from and contribute to the discussions. In addition, my own presentation was extremely well-received and was followed by high praise from Dr. Pitre, by an offer to publish the thesis from an academic publishing company, and by encouragement to apply to several prestigious doctoral programs in the States.

            The STL program continues to challenge me in new ways, and I am increasingly falling in love with Scripture and theological research. In addition to my studies, I work as a German-English theological translator for Skladach Translations (one of the translation companies used by Ignatius Press) during the semester breaks, and I am also involved in music, both on campus and in my parish in the US when I return home. I currently teach piano lessons, and am involved in my parish music ministry as a violinist, cantor, and member of the Gregorian chant schola.

In the fall, I will be applying to doctoral programs in the States. I am so grateful for the education I am receiving here at the ITI, and I am looking forward to being able to bring the fruits of this education back across the ocean.