“The first chapter of the Gospel of Saint John was so beautiful, my heart was captivated,” said Sister Walter Maher, CCVI, Vice President of Mission and Ministry for the University of the Incarnate Word, recalling the first time she saw The Saint John’s Bible. A few years later, the university’s provost would help fund its Year with The Saint John’s Bible. During that year, it would become an integral part of the university’s campus and spiritual life.
“One of the highlights was having the Bible at the Chapel of the Incarnate Word during the inauguration of our tenth President, Dr. Thomas Evans, in March 2018,” she said. The event attracted liturgical figures from around the San Antonio area, including Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, who presided over the liturgy. Soon, the Heritage Edition became part of Sunday liturgy – Maher said students “loved turning the pages to the text of daily reading” – while study materials about the Bible (visio divina, lectio divina, and publications like “Seeing the Word”) were used for staff and student reflection.
Along with being “central” to events like Heritage Day and Incarnate Word Week, which celebrate the mission and history of UIW, volumes from the Heritage Edition also made their way to the highly trafficked Student Engagement Center “so that as students and guests passed by, they would leave with a sense of wonder and awe,” Maher said.
Reaching Across Income and Interfaith Boundaries
One of the most impactful ways the Heritage Edition was used at UIW, according to Maher, was the appearance of the Bible during miniGEMS, a summer camp for girls to gain hands-on experience in STEAM fields (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics).
MiniGEMS by UIW invited middle school girls from low-income households to study robotics, music, physics and other real-world applications of STEAM in a safe, free environment, providing transportation and food along the way.
Maher said miniGEMS students were invited to “see the beauty of the Bible” as part of the art education portion. “It was truly phenomenal.”
In addition to income and class, at UIW, the appeal of The Saint John’s Bible also transcended faith tradition. “Because interreligious and interfaith dialogue are part of our history and heritage, the different groups who saw it loved its ecumenical dimensions,” Maher said. Jewish students delighted in the input of Jewish scholars in concepting The Saint John’s Bible, and “the scientists on campus … readily shared insights with their students.”
Maher said that the physical Bible was only part of the benefit of joining A Year With The Saint John’s Bible. She said she wants the UIW community to remember “the incredible creativity and beauty of the Bible” as well as how “the expertise of the Saint John’s community helped open us up to new ways of evangelizing.”