Rome and the Catholic Church

The Rome & the Catholic Church program invites high school students to learn more about the Catholic faith and its influence on western culture against the backdrop of the Eternal City.

Why Study the Catholic Church in Rome?

Rome is a privileged place, an unparalleled vantage point from which to view history, culture, art... and the thought that drives these forward. You will explore the basic tenets of the Catholic Church as well as the theological, philosophical, and spiritual movements that have originated in these beliefs, connecting these intellectual currents with the Italian and wider western features of art, history, and culture.

The Readings

At the heart of Rome and the Catholic Church is an opportunity to understand the Church's doctrinal convictions and the theology that connects and expresses these beliefs. Participants will study thinkers and theologians such as Origen, Athanasius, Gregory Nazianzus, Maximus the Confessor, Bonaventure, and Thomas Aquinas. Students also read selected passages from the first ecumenical councils and the Second Vatican Council. Students read, write, and think about their travels and their readings. Our program is not merely a tour, but is an intensive college course enhanced by travel, designed to help deepen students' intellect and broaden their understanding.

The Travels

Students will see the early Church come alive in trips to the Roman catacombs and to the churches of St. Agnes and St. Clement. Rome's religious history is given special context and significance in juxtaposition to civic institutions like the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. The glory of the Church is illustrated in visiting the grandeur of St. Peter's basilica, while her humility is borne witness to by a trip to the city of Assisi. 

The Faculty

Rome and the Catholic Church faculty members are experienced professors and travelers who have all lived and taught in Italy. Our faculty will be assisted by an able team of undergraduate and graduate students who have experience in leading student groups on study-abroad programs. 

Fr. James Oberle

Clergy Affiliate Assistant Professor, Theology

Fr. Oberle

 Fr. Oberle P.S.S., is a priest of the Society of St. Sulpice. The Society was founded in 1641 at the Church of St. Sulpice in response to the Council of Trent's request that clergy be more educated. The Society has focused on university education and seminary formation. Fr. Oberle has a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland and an STL from the Pontifical Institute of Spirituality in Rome. He has served at St. Patrick's Seminary in California, Assumption Seminary in San Antonio and Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas. He has taught at Catholic University of American, St. Patrick's Seminary and University, Saint Mary's University in San Antonio and for the past eight years at the University of Dallas. While all of the courses in spiritual theology are of interest to him, his most preferred class ins the one on Christian Mysticism. 

Dr. Gregory Roper

Chair and Associate Professor, English

Dr. Roper


Dr. Roper is a scholar of medieval literature, regularly teaching Dante, Chaucer, the Gawain-poet, and medieval drama, texts rich in the theology and philosophy of this time, and is working on a new biography of Saint Philip Neri. He lived and taught on the Rome campus from 2003-05 and 2007-09, and returned every summer for thirteen years to direct the Shakespeare in Italy program.  Now he will be working with Father Oberle to bring his experience from that program to bear on Rome and the Catholic Church. 


The Rome Campus

The University of Dallas’s beautiful Eugene Constantin Rome Campus at Due Santi is located on the western slopes of the Alban Hills, about twelve miles southeast of the center of Rome, in one of the city’s most attractive suburbs. Less than two miles away, in the small town of Castel Gandolfo, is the Palazzo Papale, a majestic palace that serves as the Pope’s summer residence. Thanks to this unique location and the comfortable Due Santi campus itself, UD Rome is a perfect place for students, faculty, and staff to get to know one another and to learn together.

Piazza del Popolo