The third cohort of DIA Fellows is underway! Six Catholic school professionals are undertaking very interesting initiatives in their respective schools to further the mission focus and formation in their communities. Each upcoming issue of The Cenacle will profile the 2023 candidates. Our next two profiles introduce Michael Solomon and Zach Werner.

Michael Solomon

I grew up in Newton, MA and I am the eldest of three children. I attended Franciscan University of Steubenville, where I majored in Catechetics and Theology. It was at Franciscan that I realized I had a love for catechesis and for teaching. After a few years of catechizing and doing ministry I discerned a call to priesthood and attended St. John’s Seminary in Boston where I studied philosophy and theology for 5 years. It was during this time period that I heard the deeper call to religious life and so I entered the Dominicans of Eastern Province and continued my studies in theology. In total I spent 3 and a half wonderful years as a Dominican. This time in religious life confirmed my love of the intellectual life, my desire to teach, and to create curriculum. Ultimately, it was also a time to discover that God was leading me away from the supernatural call of priesthood and preparing me to enter into married life. I am now into my 3rd year of teaching and my second year at The High School of St. Thomas More in Champaign, IL.  I teach theology to both freshmen and seniors and it is a wonderful experience. I am passionate about forming an excellent theology curriculum that is integrative and faithful to the Catholic Church. I am also married to a wonderful woman, Zoe, and we are expecting our first child in July.

There are two parts to my proposed project. I am teaching a class this semester that I am calling Great Christian Literature. The hope for the class is to highlight the integration of Literature and Theology. I want to really work on this class with a mentor in order to provide students with an opportunity to experience a compelling presentation of a true Catholic Worldview. I hope with this class that it becomes a microcosm for an integrated Humanities at the High School of St. Thomas More. I wish to provide an environment by which the Humanities (English, History, and Theology), become an integrated whole.

Zach Werner

Zach was born and raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He moved to Massachusetts to attend College of the Holy Cross in Worcester and played Division I lacrosse. While there, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in ReligiousStudies and double minored in Education and  Italian. From there, he became a Providence Alliance for Catholic Teachers (PACT) teaching fellow through the University Consortium forCatholic Education affiliated  at Providence College. He spent two years teaching Theology and facilitating campus ministry at Lowell Catholic High School in northeastern Massachusetts. Following the completion of teaching and taking graduate courses for two years, he earned his Master of Science in Education degree. In 2019, he and his wife, Alicia, moved across the country to Reno, Nevada to begin their new life together. Zach currently serves as the Theology department chair and 12th grade Theology teacher at Bishop Manogue Catholic High School in the Diocese of Reno.

Zach will be using the Duc in Altum Fellowship to focus on the spiritual development and formation of faculty and staff. He hopes to develop a program that enables teachers from a variety of backgrounds and faith traditions to meaningfully participate in the mystical Body of Christ.

Applications for the next cohort of DIA Fellows will be available in October. This is a valuable leadership development opportunity for the change-makers in our school communities!

View the work of past DIA Fellows here