This past summer, I had the opportunity to go to Northwest Germany and Rome with a program called the Catholic Worldview Fellowship. Over the course of one month, I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had, and grew in so many ways: academically, spiritually, experientially, and in interpersonal and emotional maturity. We had the opportunity to see firsthand – under the tutelage of the fantastic scholars who accompanied our program – extraordinary pieces of art such as “The School of Athens” (and its little known opposing piece, “The Disputation of the Sacrament”), as well as the living, monolithic cathedrals scattered across Europe.
Not only did we visit these landmarks as tourists, however, but as pilgrims and participants in the art. By celebrating the Mass in many of these locations, we were able to see the architecture serving in its intended design functionality. We were also able to connect the places of history in a striking way – for instance, seeing the throne of Charlemagne in Aachen, Germany, and the site of his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Standing on the ruins of the Colosseum was breathtaking.
For three quarters of the program, we were lodged on the grounds of a still privately owned castle. In addition to our daily time in the classroom and our extraordinary fieldtrips, the idyllic fields, paths, and streams were the sites of the forging of deep friendships and bonds that have transcended the distance which separates us half a year later. I will forever remember awaking to the quacking of ducks intruding in through the open window, and lost frisbees that have – by now – flowed down streams, into rivers, and out to the Baltic.
For me, the Fellowship was an experience of thrilling adventure, firsthand encounter with history, and unbreakable bonds of true friendship. It was life changing in the best of ways, and I hope and pray that I may have inspired you to go on your own journey of discovery.
-Brian Doupnik, Non-Affiliated Program in Germany and Italy, Summer 2019