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Sister Leads Students in the Holy Land

Photo: Sr. Paula Jean Miller, FSE on board the Jesus boat on the sea of GalileeImagine attending Mass in Nazareth, taking a boat ride to Capernaum and seeing the Roman amphitheater and aqueducts in Caesarea. Soon, a group of University of St. Thomas students and faculty will not have to imagine it.

Sister Paula Jean Miller, FSE, will guide St. Thomas study abroad students on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in May. Sister Paula Jean, founder and director of Catholic Studies and professor of theology at UST, was certified as a Spiritual Leader of Pilgrimages from The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, through the Episcopal Commission of Christian Pilgrimages, in September. She looks forward to leading another group in the Holy Land.

“I love introducing others to the Holy Land, and it is particularly exciting when it is couched in an academic context so that students prepare for the experience at a more intense level,” Sister Paula Jean said.

Sister Paula Jean led a group of students during Christmas break in 2005, and most recently, led 19 Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in December.

The study abroad course, THEO 4393/CS 4393 Mapping the Holy Land, is an interdisciplinary study of the Holy Land’s archeological, historical, cultural and theological core. The course includes seven preparatory sessions, February through May, followed by an intensive “walking classroom” each day in the Holy Land, May 22-June 1.

“Father Dempsey Rosales-Acosta from the UST Theology Department will be the chaplain for the pilgrimage, so the liturgies will be scripturally and theologically rich. Long ago, I learned that the best way to come to know the Holy Land is through your feet, as well as your head, so every day will be a ‘walking classroom,’ replete with hiking.”

Guest faculty instructors for the course include Dr. Charles Stewart, assistant professor of art history, for “Archeology in the Holy Land,” the Rev. Dempsey Rosales-Acosta, assistant professor of theology and chaplain of the trip, for “The Theological Meaning of Jerusalem,” Dr. Richard Sindelar, assistant professor of international studies, for “The Political Situation – Israel and Palestine,” and Dr. Irving Kelter, professor of history, for “The History of the State of Israel.”

There is still one space available for the May Holy Land Abroad. Contact S. Paula Jean at

For more information on future study abroad experiences, email or call 713-525-3530.

Pictured: Sister Paula Jean (left) leads the group while aboard the Jesus boat for a contemplative ride on the Sea of Galilee.

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