Benjamin McCullough

Intern, National Catholic Bioethics Center; Graduate Student (Sacred Theology)

In his letter to the Romans, Saint Paul exhorts the Christians of Rome: “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9). How is one supposed to know, though, what is good, and what is evil? It turns out that experiencing real life helps with that issue. Once you’ve touched the hot stove, you know it is evil, and definitely aren’t going to do it again! That the stove is evil is quickly and easily learned. What the good life is, however, is much harder to know. Many men and women before me have thought about this question and tried to live life to the fullest while searching for what was good. Thankfully, they wrote about it.

At Wyoming Catholic College, I read those Great Books and gained the experience of those who had come before, through Greek Epics and Roman Tragedy, in Shakespeare and Homer, in Thomas Aquinas and even Hume. But I quickly learned that having vicarious experiences through great literature is only half the story. The other half is to create your own stories. The College’s Outdoor Program gives its students the opportunity create such stories, and create them I did. Leading others in harsh situations, riding horses, and cooking in the backcountry–all provide an opportunity to not just learn about virtue (which is very important) but act virtuously in the most extreme of circumstances (which is of utmost importance). This formation was invaluable to me, and without it I would not be where I am today.

With this foundation, I decided to attend the International Theological Institute, where I am working on my Masters in Sacred Theology. During this time, I have also been blessed with the opportunity to be a Personal Consultations Intern at the National Catholic Bioethics Center. There I have advised individuals going through very traumatic medical issues, including maternal-fetal vital conflicts, hysterectomies and uterine ablations for therapeutic purposes, direct contraception and legitimate therapeutic uses of contraceptives, withholding or withdrawing assisted nutrition and hydration, proportionality of therapeutic interventions near the end of life, hospice, informed consent, cooperation with evil in the workplace and in the use of biological material of illicit origin, and much more. I have also been tasked with a research project on moral issues surrounding previable induction of labor and life-threatening maternal complications. I plan on pursuing a PhD in Bioethics after I finish my Masters, with the goal of working in a hospital as a clinical ethicist, giving much needed ethical advice in the hospital environment.

This experience at Wyoming Catholic College gave me a foundation built not on sand, but on the sturdiest stone. Wyoming Catholic has set me up for success; it gave me the critical thinking skills to apply my more general philosophy and theology to specific bioethical issues; it put me years ahead of my peers in interpersonal skills and tolerance for adversity; and most importantly, it gave me a glimpse of the good life, which I will continue to pursue forever, holding fast to what is true, good, and beautiful.