The co-curricular program at Mater Ecclesiae College consists of those non-credit activities that support academic program objectives and the integral development of the students. The program includes debates, academic presentations, academic contests, public speaking, lecture series, cultural activities, cultural visits, and current events courses. These activities take place outside the classroom and usually involve the whole student body. The co-curricular program promotes dialogue and academic freedom, providing students with the opportunity to examine current events and topics of interest from a variety of angles and viewpoints. The co-curricular activities frequently incorporate and build off of current events in order to help the students increase their awareness and understanding of the modern world and contemporary world views.
Sophomores, juniors and seniors prepare debates that focus on a specific area of academic study and provide additional opportunities for forensics. Through individual Lincoln-Douglas debates and team value debates, students develop argumentation and judgment skills and expand their ability to communicate. Preparation for debate also serves as training in liberal thinking, as students are required to prepare both sides of the argument. This helps students to develop their own convictions and their capacity to defend the truth.
Every class prepares an annual academic presentation for the student body, faculty, and staff. The topic of this presentation will be related to the particular theme of their studies, or to some aspect of history, the doctrine and life of the Church, or a current world situation. The dynamics within the presentations vary from round tables to symposiums, audiovisual presentations, musical interludes, poetry recitations, and debates. Academic presentations are formal expositions that provide an opportunity for written, oral and artistic expression, professional creativity, and teamwork. Students have the opportunity to research, write, edit, choreograph and prepare audio-visual presentations.
The topics of previous presentations have included the cultural influence of the mass media, the drama of man in Shakespeare, sacraments in the life of the Church, the pilgrim Church: a journey to the light, and youth leadership.
Academic contests are offered as a means of supporting and enhancing the general education program. Five contests are held each year on varying themes in the areas of politics and social studies, philosophy, theology, culture, language, and the arts. Over a four to six week period, students are provided with study materials related to the selected theme. Each week the students have a quiz or an opportunity to orally transmit the specific content they have studied. A semi-final contest is held after three weeks, and the final competition closes the contest. Contests often provide students with the opportunity to assimilate, memorize and transmit general information on a topic, or to focus on an aspect of the chosen theme that is of specific interest to them. Academic contests enrich the co-curricular program by helping students sharpen their critical thinking skills and powers of judgment, strengthen their memory, and improve their oral and written communication skills. The different dynamics used, including debates, round table discussion, panels, and interviews make the contests highly enjoyable as well.
In addition to the communication classes, students are given various public speaking opportunities throughout the year. They may be invited to present the College to the various groups that come for Open Houses or private visits, to present a conference to the rest of the student body, to present different parts of campus life to incoming students during the orientation courses, to act as lector during liturgical celebrations, or to be master of ceremonies or deliver a declamation at a special campus events. Students are encouraged to use these and other occasions as a means to fine-tune their speaking abilities. Their academic advisers are available to help them prepare and to provide feedback afterward.
A lecture series is offered throughout the year consisting of 4 to 5 lectures by visiting professors or invited speakers. Topics include current events, culture, politics, philosophical topics, theological and religious issues, and historical developments.
Cultural activities, held every two weeks at Mater Ecclesiae College, complement the general education program, with particular emphasis on the liberal arts – art, literature, history, etc. Although the cultural activities follow a four year cycle of general themes, the specific topics they address can vary considerably, often in response to current events. The general themes are modern and contemporary art; social and political leaders of the 20th century; the popes of the 20th century; and Christianity and world religions: dialogue between faiths.
There are two cultural visits each semester. These visits are daylong excursions to different museums and sites of cultural, historic, or religious significance. The cultural visits for each year of the program correspond to the academic content of that year. Freshmen students visit religious and historic sites that correspond to their religious and general education studies; sophomores visit specific art museums to complement their humanities courses; juniors make visits to history and science museums that support their courses in the social sciences studies; and the seniors’ cultural visits revolve around national and international affairs and education, all areas that correspond to their social science and pastoral studies. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Isabella Gardener Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the John F. Kennedy Museum and the United Nations Headquarters are among the different sites visited. Students are encouraged to use the cultural visits to study specific topics in greater depth and to integrate this knowledge with their study of leaders and leadership skills by recognizing how the ideas, discoveries and concepts of individuals they study have had and continue to have a real effect on the world.
Current Events Seminar
Every two weeks, Mater Ecclesiae students receive a Current Events’ Course. These sessions address contemporary issues of religious, political, social and scientific significance by providing an overview of national and international headlines and by analyzing more in-depth articles on topics of particular interest or importance. In addition to complementing the general education program, the Current Events Course offered at Mater Ecclesiae forms students in critical thinking skills and provides them with a working knowledge of the world, preparing them for future leadership positions.
Students with an interest and talent in writing and editing are invited to join the Writing Club where they have the opportunity to learn and practice different forms of writing from opinion pieces and books reviews to creative writing and apologetics. Student writing is regularly published in the college publications, as well as magazines, newspapers, and websites.
Mater Ecclesiae Digest (a journal of Catholic thought): Mater Ecclesiae Digest is a biannual journal of Catholic thought bringing together the study, reflection, and discussion of students and faculty members at Mater Ecclesiae College. Its contents include a wide range of editorials, reflections about various world issues, discussions, in-depth articles, and book reviews which surround a common theme.
Dialogos: This work is a biannual collection of the best creative work from Mater Ecclesiae College students. Its contents offer a wide variety of genre surrounding a common theme.
Students are taught to develop the ability to listen perceptively, to appreciate various styles of classical music, and to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural and historical backdrop behind the particular works studied. A representative selection of musical pieces and a variety of musical styles are covered, ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Mater Ecclesiae students meet for a choral workshop in which they learn to read music, train their voice and harmonize. Weekly choral workshops provide music theory, and opportunities for students to learn three and four part harmonies. Music pieces are chosen from Gregorian, Baroque, classical, and contemporary selections. Special choral workshop sessions are hosted on feast days. The students gather to enjoy a musical program that supplements the theory received during the weekly choral workshops and the music appreciation course. These sessions also provide for sheer listening enjoyment. Over the four years of the program, students are exposed to a wide variety of musical forms, styles, time periods and cultures.