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St. Patrick’s to offer class on Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Rev. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, has announced that he will teach a new series of classes on the 20th century theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

This six-week course will begin Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 6 p.m. in the church parish hall and is free and open to any who wish to attend.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in 1906 in Breslau, Germany, into a large family with well-educated and highly-respected parents. His father was a university professor and a leading authority on psychology and neurology and his mother was the daughter of an aristocratic German family. Bonhoeffer’s ancestry also included a number of important theologians, so it was not surprising that he was called into ministry. He began his studies at age 17 in Tubingen University, spent a summer in North Africa and Italy, and entered the University of Berlin upon his return. He was influenced by a number of important theologians there, as well as the teachings of Karl Barth. His studies later took him to spend a year at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he gained a reputation as a learned scholar and theologian.

Bonhoeffer became committed to a prophetic and pastoral ministry. While in the states, he was impacted deeply by the plight of African-Americans, shaping his conviction regarding the role of the church in social change. He believed that the church should be in daily contact with the poor and downtrodden and developed a passion for serving the masses. However, it wasn’t until 1931 that the full impact of his extensive knowledge and intellect ran full force into a true spiritual awareness. In a letter to a girlfriend, he described a profound conversion and spiritual liberation after reading the Sermon on the Mount.

In the letter he said, “It became clear to me that the life of a servant of Jesus Christ must belong to the Church, and step by step it became clearer to me how far that must go.” His intellect, conviction and faith ultimately took him into direct conflict with Adolph Hitler in a struggle for the good of German civilization.

Father Neel will take the class into a close look at the life and teachings of this prophetic and influential Christian theologian. Neel is a graduate of Nashotah House Episcopal Seminary in Wisconsin, where he graduated with honors and is a well respected teacher and priest.

“I always find Father Doug’s classes to be very interesting and enlightening,” says one parishioner. “He doesn’t talk down to his audience or read a script, rather he brings the subject to life with fascinating facts and stories.”

St. Patrick’s is located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. Everyone is invited to attend, regardless of religious background or beliefs.

For more information, call the church office at 731-5801.

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