Message Regarding the COVID-19 Virus

May 18, 2020: Message from the Dean of the Graduate School

Dear Graduate School Community,  

Greetings in the Lord! 

I hope this finds you and your home well. The coronavirus situation and the events it has triggered have affected many in our community, and has also required us at the Graduate School to make some difficult decisions regarding our summer program this year. 

It goes without saying that this has been a very unusual spring semester. Due to the medical and economic impacts of the pandemic, we have experienced unprecedentedly low numbers of students able to travel to campus this summer for our residential programs. Consequently, we have found it necessary to move all of our summer courses for the theology MA and classical languages program online. A smaller version of the VCI will still meet on campus from July 13-24. Below are some additional details:

 -All originally scheduled graduate theology and classical language courses will be live-streamed on schedule. Courses will meet on the expected days and at the expected times.

 -Students who wish to personally attend the courses being streamed from the Graduate School in Alexandria by Dr. Arias, Dr. Matava, or Dr. Montanaro may do so. Details are still being settled regarding personal attendance at the streaming of courses by Prof. Wallace and Dr. Gutschke.

 -There will be no on-campus housing available this summer for the Theology MA program or Classical Languages Institute courses.  

 -The courses being held during the VCI-II period (July 13-24) are not the normal VCI-II courses, but the following courses originally scheduled for VCI I: SPIR 630/The Spiritual Life, with Fr. Mullady; CONL 621/History of the Consecrated Life, with Fr. Nelson; and SPIR 803/Heart Speaks to Heart, with Fr. Hermes. Aside from this revised schedule, the two-week VCI session will otherwise run as normal, in person, and on campus, with on-campus housing, meals, and chapel.  

 -The Graduate School’s commencement ceremony this year will be a joint celebration with the undergraduate college on Sunday, August 9, 2020. This move made the most sense, because the college had to defer its annual May commencement to August 9 this year. By merging the two celebrations, the Graduate School’s commencement this year promises to be especially festive. 

 As you know, the summer program is one of the most vibrant and significant parts of the graduate school’s life. In recent years, it has also experienced unprecedented growth, with increased numbers of participants in the Vita Consecrata Institute, new elective courses in the VCI, and the addition of the Classical Languages Institute, including Polis’s immersion courses in classical and biblical languages, all alongside our regular summertime residential theology MA program. Personally, I look forward each year to joining our summer students–in the classroom, during meals, in liturgy, and around our beautiful campus. The strong and joyful sense of community that centers on our summer semester is unparalleled. Moreover, I was looking forward to your having the opportunity to see the extraordinary progress on the new college chapel (if you haven’t seen, you can follow it here). This is truly an historic event in the life of our community and the local Church, and I wish you could personally witness the progress on this beautiful place of worship. 

Thank you all for your understanding and adaptability in the face of these changes. We are blessed to have the online capabilities to continue to operate under the difficult conditions of this summer. Please join me in praying to Our Lord and for Our Lady’s intercession for our school and the advancement of our apostolate of contemplating and teaching the faith. 

Finally, I invite all members of the Graduate School to participate in a prayer campaign for deliverance from the manifold evils of the coronavirus: from the physical evil of the disease pandemic itself, from the social evil of interpersonal isolation, and from the spiritual evil of lack of access to the liturgy and sacraments. Specifically, I invite you to join in praying a daily rosary between now and Pentecost that the world, and especially our local communities, would be delivered from these evils.

In union of prayer,

RJ Matava

Dr. Robert J. Matava
Associate Professor, Dean of the Graduate School

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