Meet a Religious Studies Major


Lawrence Favata ’13

Extra-curricular activities: 

  • Intramural football
  • Watching Jasper sporting events

Why did you choose your major? 

For me, studying religious studies is of paramount significance. I was raised a Roman Catholic and I felt the need to learn about the genesis and development of Christianity and the person of Jesus Christ, who has influenced human history to its core. As a Catholic, I felt it was important to study the very religion which guides my life.

What has been your favorite class? 

Dr. Skotnicki’s Contemporary Christian Ethics in which we studied the paradigm of Christian Ethics and Jesus Christ’s distinctive ethics as seen in the parables he gave in the Gospels. It was fascinating to learn how radical the respective ethic” that Jesus taught during his life was, and how this ethic has deeply influenced civilization to this day.

What has been your experience doing research projects?

I have had some reassuring experiences when reading and writing for major research papers. Several times when I was reading for big papers, I have been struck at the sheer ingenuity of what I was reading. Whether it was the words of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount or Pope Benedict XVI’s exegesis of that sermon, I thought to myself, “This is incredible, this is why I am a Catholic.

What are your plans after graduation?

I would like to either teach religious studies or theology, or serve as a bio-ethical review board member and research professional.

Have any faculty had a big impact on you? 

Dr. Skotnicki has a vast knowledge in the field, but he also sets a wonderful example for students and faculty alike. His kindness, sense of humor and deep reverence not just for Christianity, but all religions, is refreshing. He is always willing to have serious conversations with students who come to him with some pretty deep questions.

What’s your favorite thing about this major?

During my studies, I read some of the most influential thinkers in human history. From Plato and Aristotle to Aquinas and Jesus Christ, it was fascinating to learn the history and development behind the way I live my life today as a Christian and a Roman Catholic.

What’s the most difficult thing about this major?

The most difficult thing hasn’t necessarily been any thesis papers, but rather trying to grasp the nature of some of the ultimate claims and questions made by respective religions. For example, a particular question regarding the nature of God or humanity provokes some very serious and thoughtful reflections.

What advice would you give to new students trying to select a major?

Religious studies is not just for any one particular religion, and you don’t have to necessarily even be religious to major in it. You can study any major religion, such as Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, etc. You can also study the history behind many of the ideas and values that came from these respective religions which serve as the ethical foundations for our lives today. The field is nonrestrictive, allowing you to study countless sub-topics which influence many other fields of study as well.