Wet etching optical fibers to sub-micron diameters for sensing application
This dissertation describes and analyzes lay association with vowed religious as an underappreciated model of Christian community and discipleship with layered correlations to the local and universal church. It seeks to identify who lay associates are and what their new way of life means within the life of the church. Reflection on the meaning of associate life, which peaked in the early 1990's, largely falls short of taking into account associates' viewpoint. In response, I draw from original research including oral history interviews and archival studies to investigate two representative samples of this way of life, both Catholic lay associations in the archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa: the Associates of Iowa Cistercians and the Presentation Partners. As a historical-theological portrait develops, I critically analyze each group's common practices and ecclesial perceptions, arguing associates engage the church by means of their unique contribution to, and reception, expression, and propagation of their respective spiritual traditions. I explore their relationship to parish, ministries, other Christian traditions, religious congregations, religious experiences, and perceptions of church and culture. Both the shared interpretive work and the bond with religious distinguish associates from comparable groups and develop in them a nascent ecclesiological self-understanding. This study concludes that it is the inner life of each group--understood as including but transcending the inner life of each individual and expressed in their living out of a vision arising from the teaching of Vatican II and with a sense of their larger interconnections--that best encapsulates who they are and why. By spotlighting associates' experiences in their own words, this study significantly advances reflection on associate life by constructing a practical ecclesiology on the ground. The study: 1) highlights the experiences of a neglected ecclesial movement, 2) proposes an interdisciplinary approach to studying them, and 3) reveals associate life as a site of innovative theological reflection on sanctification, the passing on of spiritual traditions from vowed religious to laity, and sustaining bonds among Christians immersed in institutional transformation.