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John Freeh appointed
to take helm of Newman Institute
The Diocese of Lincoln has announced that John Freeh, D.Phil, has been appointed the inaugural director of the Newman Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture (NICTC). Freeh is an associate professor of humanities at Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyoming.
The Newman Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture is a collaborative project of the Diocese of Lincoln, St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, and the Newman Center on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s downtown campus. The Institute offers accredited academic courses in the humanities: literature, history, and philosophy, designed for university students.
A native of Jersey City, N.J., Freeh has taught English Literature to undergraduates at Oxford University, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Gonzaga University, and Hillsdale College. He has also served as Director of University Ministry at Gonzaga and worked as a reporter and editor for The Associated Press and The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Freeh holds a doctorate of philosophy with an emphasis in English language and literature from St. Catherine’s, Oxford University. He earned a B.A. and M.A. in English from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He also earned a master of philosophy with an emphasis in Renaissance Literature at Oxford.
Freeh said that he is excited about the purpose of NICTC, as envisioned by its founder, Bishop James Conley. And Conley expressed his support for Freeh. “John Freeh has a classical mind—a poetic imagination. And, as important, his life is dedicated to the ministry of teaching. He is, through and through, a good teacher, and I know he’ll have a profound impact on our students.”
Freeh said that the vision of the Institute spurred him to apply for the position: “Wisdom is the spark that ignites in us the desire to accomplish great things, with ‘great’ here meaning all that is noble, magnanimous and worthwhile, all that lifts us from the ordinary, or transforms the ordinary in such a way that we are never quite the same, ever again.”
Forming students has been the focus of his academic career. “I have had the great privilege of seeing students themselves make the connection between what they learn and how they choose to live,” Freeh said. “The great adventure of liberal arts learning — interdisciplinary courses that touch on all aspects of our common humanity — is that such learning can make us better human beings: men and women interested in that ‘fullness of life’ which the Gospel promises; those who are passionate to know whatever is true, good and beautiful; those who want to serve the common good.”
Freeh stated that in the years to come, the NICTC “is likely to offer service opportunities around Lincoln and beyond — cultural activities and events, social gatherings for the sake of building new friendships,” he said. “We will also plan domestic and foreign trips, for example, to Greece and Italy, the wellsprings of western civilization.”
Dr. Freeh will move to Lincoln with his two children, and his wife, Helen, who also teaches at the college level, this summer.
He welcomes this new adventure and the new friendships that will come of it. “I love working with young people… I value friendship and hospitality… I like taking risks — ‘Fortune favors the bold,’” he said, describing himself as one who strives always to learn.
“I have an aversion towards pretense, which always gets in the way of true learning,” Dr. Freeh admitted. “We can only learn the truth about reality if our hearts and minds are open to wonder.”
Read the article from the Southern Nebraska Register, here