Rev. Bernhard Blankenhorn, OP
MA Philosophy (2002), MDiv (2006)
Currently pursuing a PhD in Systematic Theology at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland)
"After two years of full-time parish ministry and one year of doctoral studies at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, I have come to a deeper appreciation for my intellectual formation at DSPT. Two aspects of that education stand out as unique to DSPT.
"First, I learned to read St. Thomas Aquinas through his biblical and patristic sources, and to situate him in the context of the 13th century. This historical reading of Aquinas brought his texts alive. Rather than simply learning a set of doctrinal conclusions, I came to recognize his unique place in a living theological tradition. This historical approach to Aquinas also enabled me to place him in conversation with contemporary thinkers, from Martin Heidegger to Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar. Aquinas became a resource to engage new philosophical and theological ideas.
"Second, DSPT prepared me to minister as a Catholic priest and theologian in the secular world. On the one hand, the school's curriculum immersed me deeply in one philosophical and theological tradition (that of St. Thomas Aquinas), thus giving me a set of theological tools to attain a fuller understanding of the mysteries of the faith (the Trinity, Christ, creation, divine providence and human freedom, etc.). On the other hand, DSPT's Berkeley setting exposed me to the secular academy. My electives at UC Berkeley put me in contact with non-Christian philosophers and historians. This interchange pushed me to translate classical philosophical and theological ideas into language accessible to outsiders. I also came to a better comprehension of the hopes, questions, struggles and doubts that can lead to faith or be obstacles to it. My intellectual formation left me with deep theological convictions, the instruments to articulate them, and a desire to learn from those who do not share them. For all of that, I am most grateful."