Among the identical buildings in Assisi Heights is a hidden gem, an organization that seeks to evangelize the students on campus and through them the rest of the world.
The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology aims at teaching lay people and clergy how to learn Scripture through the heart of the church, said Dr. Scott Hahn, who founded the St. Paul Center 15 years ago.
The staff of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.
Hahn said, “We have so many, literally over 500 theology and catechetics majors who are going out there, and they’re doing so much good that I want to, not only coordinate that in a way that is more unified, but also encourage people.”
The St. Paul Center, said Hahn, is “an organization that would be designed to respond to the hunger for God’s word that is out there, but also to equip Catholic lay people, and especially our own alumni.”
The motto of the St. Paul Center is “Biblical Literacy for Catholic Lay People, and Biblical Fluency for the Clergy and the Teachers,” said Hahn.
Staff member Racquel Lopez said much of the focus of the St. Paul Center is in its Bible studies: the Bible and the Mass, the Bible and the Virgin Mary, and the Bible and the Sacraments. Additional Bible studies include the Bible and the Church Fathers, and the Bible and Prayer.
The St. Paul Center has designed programs that will teach the lay people how to be a life presenter for one of these Bible studies, and many theology teachers at Franciscan offer it as extra credit to their students as well, said Lopez.
“Dr. Hahn recognizes that he’s basically unearthing these treasures that have existed,” said Lopez. “It’s just making them accessible to everyone now.”
Not only is the focus to teach people how to use Bible study programs, but also to teach them how to read Scripture the way it was supposed to be read: from the heart of the church, said Rob Corzine, vice-president of programs.
“We seek to do both,” said Corzine, “not just reading the Bible from the heart of the church, evangelizing the lay people, but also teaching the teachers.”
Corzine said that several programs have been written specifically for lay people as well as specifically for clergy.
Six of the St. Paul Center’s Bible studies are online for free, and there are roughly 40,000 students from all over the world using these Bible studies, said Corzine.
These Bible studies are used in seminaries and dioceses, said Andrew Jones, vice-president of research and publications. The St. Paul has its own publishing house, the Emmaus Road Publishing house, and also sponsors a weekly seminar, every Wednesday night, to both graduate students and professors, said Jones.
“The idea is not just to put on some programs, which is a good thing in itself, but to pursue a mission in creating a movement, and there it’s necessary that it be spread out, that it be many people collaborating together, not just a single institution doing good things,” said Corzine.
The St. Paul Center just recently launched its newest program, The Bible and the Virgin Mary, which premiered at Franciscan University, and is now streaming online free, said Corzine.
“The St. Paul Center not only springs from the heart of the church, but it also springs from the heart of Franciscan University,” said Hahn. “We have found that the one thing that defines the St. Paul Center mission is the new evangelization.”
“And the more that we … strengthen this network of alumni, with all of their friends and neighbors and fellow parishioners, the more we discover that everything is in place for us, and it advances the mission for the new evangelization,” said Hahn.