The Catholic University of America

 Julie Burkey Defense

Final Examination of Julie V. Burkey

For the degree of Doctor of Ministry

April 13, 2011 at 1:00 p.m., Caldwell Room 125


Rev. Donald J. Heet, O.S.F.S., D.Min.


Theology of Work:  A Working Life Retreat

The US Bishops address the importance of helping Catholics to make a connection between their faith and work lives in the 1986 Pastoral Letter, Economic Justice for All: “The road to holiness for most of us lies in our secular vocations.  We need a spirituality that calls forth and supports lay initiative and witness not just in our Churches but also in business, in the labor movement, in the professions, in education, and in public life.”  This project presents a practical format for parishes to meet this pastoral challenge.  “A Working Life Retreat” is a multi-session team formation process which culminates in an all-day retreat where team members give talks that reflect their personal experience of finding God in the work, paid and unpaid, that they do on a daily basis. 

The team formation sessions are preparation for the retreat; team members spend time reflecting on scripture, significant leaders and traditions, and church teaching pertinent to the development of a theology of work, while meditation, journaling, and confidential discussion assist team members in making the connection to their own life experiences which, in turn, become fruit for the retreat talks.  The writings of Pope John Paul II, especially his 1981 encyclical Laborem Exercens (On Human Work), and the documents of the Second Vatican Council, as well as the contribution of several earlier theologians, such as St. Francis de Sales, are shown to be particularly relevant to understanding the connection between work and faith.

“A Working Life Retreat” is open to all parishioners, perhaps other parishes as well, and provides a similar, though much more condensed, opportunity for retreatants to also reflect on the intersection of faith and work in their lives.