The Office of Vocation & Ministry’s twelfth annual St. Photios the Great Faith & Learning Symposium on March 9 featured Dr. Candace Hetzner as the speaker. Dr. Hetzner is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Graduate School of Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences at Boston College. Her talk was titled “Listening to the Essence of Things: How to Love College and Learn Something Too”—a topic that drew a large audience of HCHC students and others to the midday gathering.
Dr. Hetzner drew on her long career in academia and her deep Orthodox faith to examine what it really means to learn and how one’s faith informs the experience of learning and of understanding the world. Her talk highlighted insights from her essay in the new book Eastern Orthodox Christianity and American Higher Education (University of Notre Dame Press, 2017). Student questions for Dr. Hetzner ranged from the place of Orthodoxy in contemporary American culture and education to the presence of faith in academic writing.
Having articulated the value that the Orthodox understanding of apophaticism could bring to Orthodox higher education, Dr. Hetzner also said, “Orthodoxy is the ultimate intellectual religion. It enables you to go knock yourself out trying to find the Truth.” She added that Christianity is a relational faith, which necessitates love and intellectual dialogue as well as respect for others. Reflecting on the impact of her conversion to Orthodoxy, she said, “I actually feel that I practice my faith in my teaching…when I put together a syllabus, when discussing politics…my faith is actually informing what I’m saying.”
Hellenic College senior Anna Teodosiadis, one of the many students in the audience, remarked that the event “made me think about what role we have after we graduate…we don’t need to work in the Church, but can continue learning and growing in our faith [even if we are working] outside of the Church.”