Faith & Culture Graduate Practices Dialogue As UN Delegate for Holy See
Reyna Anderson, MAFC ’15, was standing on the beach in Rio de Janeiro with 3 million other people for World Youth Day in 2013, when Pope Francis said something that struck her: He challenged youth to “go against the current.” She had recently graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and worked for an oil and gas company, yet she found herself yearning for a deeper understanding of her Catholic faith.
After much discernment, she felt called to pursue a Master of Arts in Faith and Culture at University of St. Thomas. Moved to explore her life’s meaning and armed with the tools to engage with others, Anderson leveraged her MAFC experience and is now a delegate for the Holy See to the United Nations, while she completes a law degree.
“I remember the first day I was in class with Monsignor [James] Anderson, and he asked me, ‘Reyna, what is your purpose?’” she said. “I was the youngest in the class and in the program, so I just deflected it and said I didn’t know. Then he told me, ‘Your purpose is to love and glorify the Lord in everything you do.’ It’s one thing to go to Mass and hear these things, but it’s another thing to be told directly.”
She graduated with her Master of Arts in Faith and Culture in May 2015. For a year she worked at the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston School of Environmental Education, a program of the Camp Kappe Youth Retreat Facility, where she co-wrote the curriculum. However, the pursuit of her purpose and the principles she learned in the MAFC degree program led Anderson to law school.
“From my MAFC, I gained this concept of justice as a cardinal virtue and this concept of participating in politics as Christians,” she said. “We have to participate in politics. It is our duty, because if we do not, we’ll get snuffed out. Our views and our values will get snuffed out.”
Anderson applied and was accepted to Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Fla. Now in her third and final year of law school, Anderson was chosen for the School’s United Nations Legal Internship. As an intern, she is an official delegate for the Holy See to the United Nations, and she is in charge of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee), which covers issues such as the Palestinian question. She attends formal meetings with representatives from around the world and writes reports that are sent to Vatican offices.
Without the MAFC degree, Anderson said she would not have had a framework to understand all the moral underpinnings of the work of the United Nations.
“The Holy See doesn’t speak on everything, but when it does speak, [the message] is articulate; it raises the conversation and the dialogue to another intellectual level, and it is always in defense of human dignity.” Anderson said. “The MAFC has showed me how to be articulate, how to write about and—in an indirect way—how to argue for the Church and her doctrine.”