Theology Club a ‘great way to deepen, further religious education’

Contributing writer

“As a Catholic going to a Catholic high school, I feel that participating in my school’s Theology Club is a great way to deepen and further my education in religion,” says Julia Nugent, 18, a senior from O’Fallon.

“It exposes me to other people’s thoughts on religion and other theological ideas,” she says.

Nugent attends Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville and is co-president of the Theology Club.

Althoff offers theology classes for each grade level, from “God’s Revelation to the World, Jesus Christ: His Mission and Ministry” for freshmen to “Honors Advanced Theology, Life in Jesus Christ (Morality)” for seniors, who can receive college credit for the course through St. Louis University.

“The Theology Club is a laid back way for the students to talk about what they want to talk about,” says Jim Baur, who has taught theology at Althoff since 2013. Previously he taught theology at the former St. Elizabeth Academy (now The International Institute) in South St. Louis from 1983-2013.

The club meets a few Fridays a month, from 7:45 to 8:10 a.m. Donuts are served during this early morning meeting time.

Sometimes the conversations are an extension from class discussions, but Baur says it’s like a colloquium. “Whatever comes up, comes up.”

The club members have recently discussed the importance of inclusion, diversity and loving everyone, based on watching the movie, “Remember the Titans,” during class.

The movie is the true story of a newly appointed African-American coach and his high school team on their first season as a combined high school and as a racially integrated unit.

Nugent has two favorite scenes from the movie: the locker room scene when they play the song, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” because she loves the soundtrack and a scene in the emergency room after one of the team members was in a car accident.

“The part I like is when Julius says, ‘Can’t you tell by looking at him he is my brother,’” Nugent says. “You don’t have to look alike to be family. You don’t have to be related to be family.”

At some meetings, participants talk about family struggles and how faith helps them, Nugent says.

The Theology Club actually began about five years ago when a student requested a group like this be formed.

This student was experiencing health issues with his mother.

“One of the best things about our meetings,” she says, “is we get to see not only the person going through a family issue, but how they handle it. We help each other when these experiences are shared. We get to know each other better, deepen our connections as a student body.”

She adds, “I am glad we can talk about faith at our school.”

Shane Werner, 18, a senior from Fairview Heights, serves as co-president of the Theology Club with Nugent. The two students also are co-presidents of the Crusaders Against Alcohol and Drugs club.

Because of COVID 19 restrictions, most clubs didn’t meet the last couple of years. As seniors, this is the first year the co-presidents have been involved with the two clubs.

They held a breakfast before school to promote awareness for both clubs, which resulted in more members.

The members are currently talking about holding a fundraiser to help a local charity.