Summer 2018: St. Kateri Institute

Friday, June 29, 2018

By Dr. Eric Hall, Director of the St. Kateri Institute

June 18-24, 2018, the week of our third St. Kateri Institute, was wet. Very wet. Indeed, the week was so wet that the St. Kateri leadership team halfway expected to hear in its meetings prior to the Institute to “Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch” (Genesis 6:14, NASB). Perhaps we would have stayed dryer if we had. But dry was not in the cards and neither was a divine intervention with the weather.

The St. Kateri Institute, being an intellectual, spiritual, and outdoors adventure for high school students—25 this year—who want to learn a Catholic theology of creation in thought, word, and deed, does not stop for the weather, and neither do its students and leaders. So, this years’ plucky group of adventurers learned to laugh at their soggy situations. Even after a wet hike near Moose Creek and a failed attempt at a drenched fire, we graciously entered into an attitude of inquiry during the seminars and embraced a spirit of gratitude during the evening Masses. Students especially found meaning in the structure of the days, focused around both scripture and Encyclicals, and the students engaged readily the Catholic teachings concerning who the Lord of creation is, what it means to be a fallen and redeemed person in this creation, and how persons can best fulfill their God-given duties toward creation and one another. And the rain didn’t seem to hurt the Institute in the least as such.

You might even say that we all found some benefits in the rain. Whereas other tourists in Yellowstone National Park – where we spend two of our days together – refused to face a few moderately sized raindrops to embrace the created majesty of Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon, we veterans of water were fine with it. In a rare moment at the busy Yellowstone these days, we got 15 minutes alone at the top of the Grand Canyon’s Lookout Point to contemplate Beauty of God. There’s something special in that.

While the St. Kateri Institute ended the week still soaking under a deluge of water, those of us who were a part of it did so with the truth of faith instilled into us that “behold,” God’s creation, “was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Even the rain.