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Faculty Focus: June 2021

June 1, 2021

Fr. Matt Strabala, O.P. has taught theology to seniors and freshmen during his first four years at Fenwick.

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What is your educational background?

MS: BA in Psychology from University of Dallas, MA/MDiv from Aquinas Institute of Theology

What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?

MS: I have worked as a college campus minister, parish priest and director of an adult Catholic formation institute.

What are you currently reading for enjoyment?

MS: Firefly: Magnificent Nine by James Lovegrove. (Browncoats Forever!)

What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?

MS: I enjoy traveling when I can, or just going on long walks around the neighborhood. My Dad and I are currently planning a Route 66 trip this summer from Chicago to Los Angeles along as much of the old road as we can find.

To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?

MS: I was in the school men’s choir, the drama club and occasionally did competitive speech and debate. I’m not an athlete (big surprise, right?) but did try out for our school wrestling team, which was quickly disbanded and I spent a week drafted onto the cross-country team (it’s a long story).

Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?

MS: I have no official duties with clubs/sports/activities, but have served as an unofficial faculty adjunct with the International Club.

What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?

MS: Fenwick students at their best are diverse, curious about the world and concerned about one another.

When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?

MS: Teaching is an integral part of the Dominican charism, so I have been committed to that since I joined the order in 1996. I see preaching/teaching as the art of translating and unpacking the wealth of spiritual reflection and understanding from the past and helping people to access and make use of it in the modern world. I see preaching/teaching as helping equip people to make sense of the world and to find our place and meaning within it. With regard to teaching high school, I got a phone call from my provincial in the summer of 2017 asking, “Matt, how would you feel about teaching at Fenwick?”

What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your teaching?

MS: Humor and the ability to laugh both at the weirdness of life in general and at myself.

What are your favorite classes to teach?

MS: I mostly teach freshmen Scripture these days and greatly enjoy that. The semesters I’ve taught world religions have also been fun.

What is the greatest success you have had in teaching?

MS: Greatest success … I think really just seeing the light go on in a student’s eyes as she or he realizes “Oh! That’s why we do X!” or “Ah! Now I get why people make such a big deal about Y!”

What challenges face students today?

MS: Pandemic aside, I think the world (society/technology/politics) is changing at an ever-increasing rate and it is more and more difficult for young people to prepare and plan for the future. I think that is where a Fenwick education is most valuable. Certainly, we try to equip students with certain essential knowledge and skills, but the greatest gift we can provide to our students is the ability to think and learn for themselves in order to make their way through a world that may be quite different from the one they are learning in today.

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