Theological Studies and Ministry: My Time at St. Bernard’s - St. Bernard's

Theological Studies and Ministry: My Time at St. Bernard’s

Mar 12, 2024

Tyler Davis

My name is Tyler Davis, and I am a second year Master of Arts in Theological Studies student at St. Bernard’s! Outside of school, I work full-time in the Diocese of Rochester, NY, as a Pastoral Associate for the Southeast Rochester Catholic Community. In my position, I oversee Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Baptism Preparation, Greeting/Safety/Hospitality ministries, and am the CASE Coordinator for my parish.

Prior to my studies at St. Bernard’s I attended Roberts Wesleyan College where I earned a degree in Business Management and Social Entrepreneurship, focusing on non-profit studies and workplaces.

As a recent 2020 convert, much of my experience of Catholicism has been shaped by the post-pandemic world. Given my Protestant upbringing, my study of the Catholic faith had largely been limited to RCIA and personal study prior to my time at St. Bernard’s. I arrived at the School passionate and eager to learn. In my professional capacity before graduate school, I oversaw several ministries with limited success. Being new to Catholic ministries as a convert, working in parish ministry proved both challenging and simultaneously rewarding.

As I began my studies at St. Bernard’s I immediately felt the positive impact of my studies. What’s more, I felt as though the classes stretched me in ways I had not expected. Particularly, a breakthrough began in my studies on the Second Vatican Council. Through my time at St. Bernard’s, I was invited to read past media headlines and actually read what the Council Fathers had written. As a convert, I was fascinated with media personalities and began to question the value of the Second Vatican Council, in light of the opinions of these personalities. St. Bernard’s forced me to actually read the documents in context, as an essential pillar of the Church’s teaching, in continuity with the tradition that had come before it. Reading the preceding work of the Liturgical Movement in the early 20th century, alongside the profound witness of writers like then-Father Joseph Ratzinger, it became clear that the Council’s vision was beautiful, no matter how it may have been misapplied later.

Remarkably, my personal transformation did not result from the work of a single class, but from the continued attention and intentionality of the many amazing teachers and staff I have encountered at St. Bernard’s. While they encouraged my academic studies, it was clear that they cared deeply for my work here in Rochester and wanted to see the local Church thrive. Perhaps even more inspiring than their excellent teaching has been their continued investment in their local parishes. The faculty and staff at St. Bernard’s have truly been as supportive in my personal walk with Christ as they have been with academia.

As I near the conclusion of my studies at St. Bernard’s I cannot help but reflect on the profound transformation my studies have had on my personal and professional life alike. Notably, my time at St. Bernard’s has helped me to develop and grow our parish’s struggling young adult ministry into one of the largest and most active ministries for young adults in Rochester!

Undergirding my studies at St. Bernard’s has been an emphasis on welcoming and listening. While such principles are foundational to a proper academic environment, they have proven equally essential to ministry. The Diocese of Rochester's new ministry called “Converge,” was built through reflection on the various works and writers I read during my time at St. Bernard’s. Combining the theological reflection I learned with personal experience working in parish ministry, I collaborated with neighboring parishes to revitalize young adult ministry in our local parishes. Our ministry is far from perfect, but we have been blessed to see the fruitfulness of our efforts in the growth and work of our new ministry!

"Converge" is grounded in the writings and work of Luigi Giussani and Pope Francis. Beginning with the cultivation of relationships, our ministry strives to make evangelization central to everything we do (as Pope Saint Paul VI called for in Evangelii Nuntiandi). This commitment to evangelization has changed how we approach people and the ministry as a whole. Rather than offering limited events based on what was easiest for the parish or the staff, we chose to work directly with local young adults to evaluate the needs of their peers and construct a ministry that could help meet their most basic needs in light of their lifestyles and schedules. Through the help of these incredible young adults, we worked to craft a ministry that would not only reach those who are already committed to their local parish, but those who had been hurt by or estranged from the Church.

Today, Converge has become one of the largest and most active young adult ministries in Rochester. While many people and efforts have helped make this possible, I have no doubt that the education and mentoring I received at St. Bernard’s have been instrumental to the ministry’s continued success.

As I continue my work in the Diocese for years to come, I will forever cherish the education and guidance I have received from St. Bernard’s – a school of theology and ministry.

Tyler works as a Pastoral Associate in the Diocese of Rochester, serving in the Southeast Rochester Catholic Community in the Center City. He earned his Bachelors in Management and Social Entrepreneurship from Roberts Wesleyan University before beginning his graduate studies, where he is currently completing a Masters of Arts in Theological Studies with a focus in Systematic Theology and an anticipated graduation of this coming May. Outside of work and school, Tyler enjoys volunteering in his local Fire Department, eating out with friends, and spending time with his beautiful fiancée, Laura, whom he looks forward to Marrying this coming June. As a Pastoral Associate, Tyler specializes in hospitality, parish safety, CASE Coordination, and ministry to Young Adults. Tyler was fortunate to serve as a founding coordinator of Rochester’s CONVERGE Young Adult Ministry, as well as assisting in the development of Rochester’s newest ministry for 30+ adults, ELEVATE.