In celebration of the upcoming graduation of Echo 12 on Saturday July 29, Church Life will feature interviews with select Echo alumni. Check out yesterday’s interview here.
Today’s interview is with Sophie (Jacobucci) Lorenzo, of Echo 9. Sophie served as an Echo apprentice at the parish of St. Raphael in the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire. Church Life caught up with Sophie on her current work, renewing the Catholic Imagination, and her reflections on her time in Echo.
CL: Are you currently working in theological education, ministry, or work in the Church?
SL: I’m currently working at Loyola Press, a Catholic publisher of religious education curriculum in Chicago. My role is Social Media Specialist in the Marketing department. I coordinate messages to promote our products and content for blogs on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Loyola Press is a Jesuit ministry with a dedicated mission to be “people for others” following the Ignatian spiritual tradition.
CL: How would you define the phrase “Catholic Imagination,” and how do you see yourself renewing the Catholic imagination through your work?
SL: When I hear the word imagination I jump to mythical scenes, like those in Lord of the Rings, or the sight of billions of stars scattered across the universe. They’re places I’ve only gone to with my mind’s eye. I can tap into the mythical by closing my eyes and letting my mind travel away from the here and now. Coming from the word image, imagination illustrates “what is” with “what could be”, all of which is very much grounded in the stories of reality.
Including the word Catholic, it means knowing what guides what I’m seeing – Christ and the sacraments. The Catholic Tradition pieces together mysteries that are unbelievable without faith and imagination. The Catholic imagination helps us experience Beauty in our daily prayer, work, and rest. As Timothy O’Malley writes, “the Catholic imagination is ‘the capacity we have to see the world anew through the images and narratives that nourish us.’”
I see myself renewing the Catholic imagination by working in a space that is a new frontier for sharing the Gospel, the Internet. Communication is growing and advancing rapidly, and my work is a space where I share about the rich devotions and teachings of the faith and instantly connect with a community. I express gratitude and thanksgiving online each day for prayer intentions, concerns, confusion, and joy.
CL: What has shaped your own Catholic imagination? How do you continue to nourish your imagination?
SL: My Catholic imagination has been shaped by the conversations I had at the family dining table growing up, literature, art, theological study, and community. I remember how my first experiences with my family about the faith sparked my interest and kindled a fire within me. From there I read books in high school that were infused with Christian language and symbolism. I then studied art and theology when I reached college. There my imagination traveled to the time of artists like Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Fra Angelico, and Rembrandt. In the Echo Program, I came alive with the questions and conversations I had with professors and classmates about theology and the Church. I recognized what it means to have an authentic community where imagination takes root. My view of the Church and its mysteries was pieced together through these experiences.
I continue to nourish my imagination through many of the same avenues, only now my questions and views have matured! Joining online creative and religious forums and continued reading has shown me that I’m not alone in my experiences of faith.
CL: Where do you see a need for a renewed Catholic imagination within the Church?
SL: I see a need for a renewed Catholic imagination in the culture of parish life, primarily a new understanding of faith formation and the arts. I think it starts with simple steps – open conversation, formation through the fundamentals of our faith and rich artistic tradition, and opportunity to share stories in the community. I hope to see a culture of encounter with Christ and the sacraments, with one another, with Church Tradition, and the arts.
CL: What tips and tools would you recommend for others serving the Church who aspire to renew the Catholic imagination?
SL: I would recommend staying close to the devotional life of prayer that the Church has given us, and exercising creativity. Adoration, daily Mass, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary and other spiritual reading are tools and companions for the journey of renewal. They give us strength and teach us discipline, and help us to remain humble in our pursuit of change.
We are all creative and playful in some way. Nurture this part of yourself, balancing it with your intellectual and spiritual practices. Visiting art museums, attending cultural events like concerts, theater and food festivals, and playing, open us up for inspiration in our faith life. God sees us as his children, made in his image, and children have incredible imaginations! We can act with humility and a childlike spirit in our service to the Church.
Featured photo courtesy of the McGrath Institute for Church Life; headshot courtesy of Sophie Lorenzo