2009 Letter & Spirit Summer Institute

Summer for the St. Paul Center kicked off in earnest this June with the Letter & Spirit Summer Institute. This is the second year we’ve invited young doctoral students and scholars to Steubenville for an intensive week of study, discussion, and social interaction.

Theologically focused summer institutes have historically played an important role in the education and formation of teachers of the faith. Indeed, while still a professor at Regensburg before his election as a bishop, Professor Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, along with a colleague led such an endeavor from 1970-1977. Ratzinger himself was simply following in the footsteps of Romano Guardini, who had guided similar enterprises in the 1920s and 1930s.

“I can’t even express how
much I enjoyed everything.
It was an honor to
be a part of it.”

While we dare not compare ourselves with these and other similar ventures which have borne so much fruit, it is our hope and prayer that we can somehow add to this rich history of rigorous learning and fraternal camaraderie.


Despite its relative youth, our Summer Institute is fast becoming one of the key components of our Letter & Spirit project, which focuses on “teaching the teachers” and promoting biblical fluency for clergy and scholars.


Dr. Hahn focused his attention this year on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, an epistle sometimes considered to be an “away game” for Catholics. However, Dr. Hahn masterfully demonstrated quite the opposite in a series of rich lectures that left us all in awe of the depth and beauty of our patron’s theology.

Of the fifteen young scholars in attendance from around the country, five of them were Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, on loan to us by Fr. Benedict Groeschel. Like last year, the Summer Institute integrated the friar’s spiritual life and routine into the schedule so that our academic endeavors were constantly steeped in prayer.

The Letter & Spirit Summer Institute not only provides rich academic formation, it is also a way for young scholars to begin to form friendships and networks of support as they embark upon their life work. 

All in all, it was a beautifully intense week.  Judging from some of our participant’s comments, it appears they agree:


  • “I was humbled to be a part of this time…a gift and grace.”
  • Glorious! A memorable week!”
  • “I can’t even express how much I enjoyed everything. It was an honor to be a part of it.”
  • “The hospitality was amazing, the fellowship was great, and the lectures were mind-blowing. This was the most fruitful and enjoyable week I’ve had in a while. Thanks.”