— By Hannah Dorss —
Heather Fasnacht credits an undergraduate theology class at the University of Louisiana with deepening her faith and changing her direction in life. It ultimately led her to pursue an MA in Biblical Theology at John Paul the Great Catholic University, which she described as an adventure and incredible leap of faith.
Before her first theology class as an undergrad, Heather says she did not take her Catholic faith seriously. However, the class changed her perception of her faith, and fixed in her heart a desire to learn more. She soon created a bible study group for the girls in her sorority, took more theology and philosophy classes, and began living her faith much more actively.
However, as her undergraduate graduation drew near, Heather says she went into crisis mode as she tried to figure out what to do with her life. During a spiritual direction meeting, she says Fr. Jacque Philippe gave her some surprisingly simple advice saying, “What, do you think God is going to drop some job in your lap? Pick something!” Heather says at this point she realized that despite studying public relations, her true passion was theology.
This realization led her to search for a graduate degree. Though at first she had no specific goals or ideas of what she wanted out of a Master’s degree in theology she soon found JPCatholic. Heather says at this point she knew very little about Scripture and realized that was a huge problem, and JPCatholic’s emphasis in Scripture and exegesis seemed to be the perfect fit.
Heather says she didn’t quite know what to expect entering the program at JPCatholic, but her spiritual goal was simply to surrender the year to God, trusting that He would open up opportunities for her growth. Reflecting on the year, Heather says she gained knowledge and understanding, growth in confidence, new relationships with others, and even a job offer. She attributes the knowledge she gained to the mentorship from Dr. Kincaid and Dr. Barber. Heather described them as brilliant scholars who are available, helpful, holy, and constantly inspiring her and her fellow students. Heather says she’s now more confident in her faith and in her ability to communicate truth to others because she understands Scripture on a completely new level. Additionally, she says she’s grateful for the friendships she’s made not only with the other MA students, but with the undergrads and MBA students as well, saying she’s learned so much from them.
On the academic side, Heather says this is the first time she’s ever been truly challenged, which made her humbled by what she doesn’t know and encouraged to keep going. She says the small class sizes and support from the professors was a constant source of encouragement. Although she completed the rigorous one-year program, Heather says taking the two-year tack would have allowed her to spend more time soaking in the material and studying with the professors.
Heather graduated from the program in September and returned to her hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana where she is now teaching theology classes at a Catholic High School.
Heather says she’s heartily recommended the MA in Theology program to many of her friends and family members already. She looks back on her time here at JPCatholic as a period that formed her both in her faith and in her personality, making her more knowledgeable and confident in her faith. She states, “I feel able to leave JPCatholic and impact culture for Christ.”