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Religious Studies

2014-2015 Course Offerings (4 credits to graduate + 0.5 credit Junior Justice Project)


This course is devoted to the study of the Bible and its impact on faith. Using the historical-critical method, primary
texts of both Jewish and Christian Scriptures are examined. In the light of Biblical revelation, students explore topics like divine and human nature, justice and compassion, the purpose of suffering, sin, morality, the identity of Jesus and the role of Christian community.


This sophomore course is designed to help students understand that they can encounter Jesus Christ today in a full and real way in and through the sacraments, and especially through the Eucharist. Students will not only examine each of the sacraments in detail so as to learn how they may encounter Christ throughout life but will explore many of the virtues of the sacramental life that support the sacraments themselves such as community life in the Spirit, repentance and forgiveness, abstinence, prayer, and discernment.


This sophomore course supplies students with a general knowledge of the Church’s history from apostolic 
times to the present. Students will explore the major eras of Church history by encountering the Church’s  “heroes” (martyrs, saints, theologians, activists, etc. in their context) who, sustained by Jesus and the Holy Spirit, have lived and preached the Gospel as covenant with God in their lives and in response to their times.  Students will come to know that the Church is the People of God…living as the Body of Christ today.


The purpose of this junior course is to invite students to view the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus as God’s promise and call to humanity to create a more loving and just world. With the Gospels and Catholic Social Teaching documents as guide, students will learn how Christ’s concern for those who suffer, especially the poor and marginalized, must not only be humanity’s concern but is the way to share in the redemption of Jesus Christ as a disciple, working in creation to receive the gift of salvation.


The purpose of this junior course is to help students see God’s work in creation, especially the life of Jesus Christ, as the standard for moral and ethical action in human life. The course will explore modern ethical issues, outline moral concepts, and articulate how the Church comes to hold particular ethical/moral precepts as truth so that each student is able to apply these teachings to their current and future decision-making. 


The Junior Justice Project (JJP) is completed by juniors either during the summer leading into their junior year or during the school year. The 50 hour service learning experience gives students the opportunity to explore and crystallize both the challenges and rewards of living a life for and with others. In consultation with the office of Faith and Justice, students select a placement where they will spend their 50 hours. The grade for this project is based on student’s successful and diligent completion of his hours as well as the thoughtful completion of various reflection activities. At the end of their experience, students will research a social justice issue that emerged during their 50 hours. Students will then synthesize their research and experience for the final portion of their justice project grade. 

The JJP will be placed on a student's spring junior year schedule 8th period, is a letter-graded course, and the Office of Faith and Justice will work with students to select the best window of time and agency that connects the student to an agency that meets his interests, his schedule, and the geographic area that works for him.  Although the grade for Junior Justice Project will show on a student's Spring transcript it is expected the he complete JJP in either the summer, fall or spring semester. This process will be independently tracked by the Office of Faith and Justice.

Students are expected to fulfill their Junior Justice Project commitment by working 50 hours one semester at an approved agency in the greater Phoenix community. Students will work with an agency that exhibits a ‘preferential option for the poor and vulnerable’.

Immersion Trips: Students entering their junior year may fulfill some of their 50-hour Justice Project requirement by participating in either the certain immersion trips. Please see the OFJ for more details.


(All seniors are required to take Senior Synthesis and one Religious Studies elective of their choice)


This is a senior course which provides an opportunity for seniors to bring together the various theological resources they have learned throughout their years at Brophy in order to equip themselves for a mature response to the challenges represented by their careers and the values of the society they are entering. The teachings of the Roman Catholic faith are presented as a model of consistent response to these challenges. Students are required to write a paper which summarizes the strength their faith provides them in the face of these challenges.


This course is designed for practicing Catholic students or with the approval of the instructor, to stay faithful to the call of Jesus Christ. Students will experience various forms of prayer, including St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.


This course traces the development of the world’s main religions from prehistoric to modern times. Political, economic, social, and geographic relationships among various world religions will be explored. Beginning with primal religions, the course will analyze common factors and significant differences in practices and beliefs found throughout non-developed and developed religions. Particular attention will be given to Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam.


This course provides a general consideration of human nature and the nature of the universe, knowledge, perception, freedom and determinism, and the existence of God. Students will identify and compare the various types of logical arguments, major philosophical views of reality, rationalist and empiricist theories of knowledge and at least one value theory. In addition to critically analyzing the major arguments for the existence of God, students will describe the problem of evil and examine religious explanations for the existence of evil.


In Pope John Paul II’s 1998 letter regarding the Vatican’s publication of We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah, he wrote, “May the Lord of history guide the efforts of Catholics and Jews and all men and women of good will as they work together for a world of true respect for the life and dignity of every human being, for all have been created in the image and likeness of God.”  In this spirit, “Theodicy and the Holocaust” seeks to examine the justice of God and the injustice of the Holocaust. Students will explore the history of Jewish-Christian relations and the birth of anti-Semitism, the role of anti-Semitism during the rise of the Third Reich, the evolution from persecution to the Final Solution, the religious and historical implications of the Holocaust, and theodicy in the modern world.  This class will be uniquely team taught by a member of the Religious Studies Department and a member of the Social Studies Department.


The purpose of this course is to invite students to study human sexuality as an all-embracing, all-pervasive gift in creation from God. Students will explore the biological, psychological, social, moral, and cultural origins and implications of sexual behavior. Special guidance will be taken from the writings of Pope John Paul II as a prophet of the culture of life and respect for the body as temple of the Holy Spirit. Emphasis will be placed on helping students develop a holistic appreciation of sexuality and stress the importance of building relationships grounded in self-respect, love, and integrity. 


St. Ignatius of Loyola believed that we could know God better by paying attention to his work in our lives, our experiences, our imagination, and our feelings. This course will examen and embody St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises, using his "workouts" to teach you how to grow spiritually by learning to respond in concrete, practical ways to God's presence in your life. Prayer, reflection, and earnest engagement are expected. 


This course will explore how Catholics embodied (or failed to embody) the teachings of Jesus on nonviolence across history. The course will begin with an examination of Jesus' critique of the violent treatment of others in the New Testament. The course will then explore different stages in the history of Catholicism during which Catholics responded in vastly different ways to questions of peace, war, persecution, and tolerance. The course will also have a pastoral, reflective dimension that invites students to be aware of violence in their own lives and culture and to discern how to become more faithful disciples of the Prince of Peace.  Its goals are:  

Goal 1: Prompt seniors to contemplate more deeply Jesus' call to love of neighbor and to sharpen their sensitivity to the various kinds of violence that are normative in American culture (violence in games/movies, TV programs, college fraternities, American foreign policy, gun culture, sexual harassment, and more) 

Goal 2: Expose seniors to heroes of the faith who promoted cultures of nonviolence within Catholic Church: early Christian martyrs, Francis of Assisi, Erasmus, Ignatius, Las Casas, Francis de Sales, Thomas More, Daniel Berrigan, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, John Dear, S. J. and others)

Goal 3: Increase student familiarity with core papal and US Conference of Bishop's documents on war


The rise of globalization and media in our modern world should ideally bring about encounters that foster tolerance and connection based on exposure to different cultures.  However a recent study done by the Pew Research Center found that “The share of countries with a high or very high level of social hostilities involving religion reached a six-year peak in 2012.”  Religion is something that people hold very dear and is an intimate part if identity.  How do we not only learn to speak effectively about our own faith, but listen to the deep faith of others respectfully.  “Face to Faith” is an online education community started by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation based on the idea that building relationships between students of different faiths and cultures can break down the barriers between us that often lead to conflict and extremism.  The Face to Faith program provides modules, activities, hosts blogs and most importantly facilitates videoconferencing of students around the world.  This course would assist the fundamental aspects of the Catholic faith through helping students articulate their own beliefs in dialogue with students around the world of various faiths.  These video classroom connections would put our students in touch with other students from any variety of 19 different countries.  While learning to listen and dialogue, not debate, students would grow in compassion and come to a deeper understanding of their own faith.  

More information on the F2F online community: http://www.tonyblairfaithfoundation.org/projects/facetofaith

Senior Elective Jesuit Virtual Learning Academy Courses for 2014-2015 (See JVLA link above left for more info; extra cost involved):

(these courses are fully online, half-credit courses that count for Brophy's senior Religious Studies elective credit)

Living as a Disciple of Jesus Christ in Society {JVLA--Fall Semester Only}

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the Church’s social teaching. Students are to learn how Christ’s concern for others, especially the poor and needy, is present today in the Church’s social teaching and mission. 

Bioethics      {JVLA--Spring Semester Only}

The purpose of this course introduces students to bioethics as an interdisciplinary subject through critical thinking, writing, and discussing contemporary issues. Bioethical thinking is neither biology nor ethics but, rather, a melding of both. Interdisciplinary thinking is solidly rooted in the processes of scientific thinking and, simultaneously, is solidly rooted in the processes of philosophical and theological thinking. As the piers of a suspension bridge stand solidly on firmament to support the span between them, so also do the disciplinary ways of knowing biology and ethics serve as solid foundations to support the interdisciplinary thinking of bioethics.

Ecumenical and Interreligious Issues {JVLA--Spring Semester Only}

The purpose of this course is to help students understand the manner in which the Catholic Church relates to non-Catholic Christians as well as to other religions of the world. Building on the foundational truth that Jesus Christ established the Catholic Church and entrusted to her the fullness of God’s revelation the course helps students recognize the ways in which important spiritual truths can also be found in non-Catholic Christian churches and ecclesial communities as well as in non-Christian religions. It also helps students recognize the ways in which other systems of belief and practice differ from the Catholic faith. 

Responding to the Call of Jesus Christ {JVLA Spring Semester Only}

The purpose of this course is to help students understand the vocations of life: how Christ calls us to live. Students learn how all vocations are similar and how they differ. The course examines married life, single life, priestly life, and consecrated life. Students learn what it means to live life for the benefit of others and the value in considering a vocation in service to the Christian community.  

Science and Religion [JVLA Spring Semester Only}

This course will analyze the historical and contemporary dialogue between religion and science through various theological, psychological and biological perspectives. From a philosophical viewpoint, various questions surrounding human nature will be addressed through the social sciences: What does it mean to be religious in a scientific age? Is human nature genetically determined or socially constructed? Are free will and determinism mutually exclusive concepts? Is evolution compatible with a humanity made in the image of God? Students will foster an appreciation for integrating what we believe with what we can prove while developing a research position paper on a contemporary issue of religion and science. Topics will include the anthropology of John Paul II; scientific factors in moral development; the debate between intelligent design theory and evolutionary biology; the moral challenges posed by genetic research; and how Catholicism has sought to integrate recent scientific advancements.