New club encourages ‘seeing different perspectives’

Kara McIntyre

Driving down Seymour Road, one-story brick houses and white picket-fenced neighborhoods lining the approximate eight-minute trip from campus, a white adobe church sits in a small parking lot waiting for Rev. Fr. Peter Kavanaugh and his family to open the doors. Saint Benedict Orthodox Church welcomed the 30-year-old priest to Wichita Falls about one year ago, and he now resides here with his wife Zoë and 14-month-old twins, Eva and Kevin. 

“I started out as an Evangelical Christian, but I converted to the Orthodox Church in college,” Kavanaugh said. “I spent 15 months at a monastery in Greece after college working at a pig farm. It’s been a very strange journey.”

Kavanaugh and his wife began the Christian Classics Society in Wichita Falls because of their upbringings. 

“I grew up in a home of classical musicians, and that’s one reason my wife and I started the Christian Classic Society,” Kavanaugh said. “We both grew up immersed in classical thought, philosophy, art, etc.”

Kavanaugh teamed up with Kirsten Lodge, humanities program coordinator and associate professor of English, to create the Christian Classics Society Book Club, meeting every first and third Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the Fain Fine Arts atrium. It’s open to the Wichita Falls community, not just students.

“College is that time of life where students have left home and are trying to find themselves and find meaning,” Kavanaugh said. “I have a strong love for college students, and being young myself helps as well. I figured it was something that the college could use and benefit from.”

Lodge has taught religious literature and philosophy in her classes, and she said she can bring the academic perspective to balance Kavanaugh’s religious perspective.

“I’m interested in literature from the intellectual point-of-view rather than the religious one,” Lodge said. “But we want to let people decide what they want to read and talk about at the meetings.”

One of Lodge’s and Kavanaugh’s goals is to get people from different backgrounds and denominations to attend meetings. Kavanaugh shifted his silver wedding ring and discussed his love of dialogue.

“I believe very strongly in dialogue. I love getting together with groups of people and discussing life,” Kavanaugh said. “I thought the Christian Classics Society would be a great opportunity for Christians of different backgrounds and different denominations to get together and discuss the big questions.” 

Kavanaugh said the meetings will be discussion based and informal.

“We know college students are busy and don’t have time to read big books,” Kavanaugh said. “I loved college, so I’m looking forward to spending time and hearing what people who are young and energetic and searching for truth and meaning in life. I thought it’d be a good opportunity to explore.”

Lodge agreed with Kavanaugh, and she said she hopes this club opens new perspectives for its attendees.

“Maybe someone will love it and if they weren’t previously a Christian, they’ll convert to Christianity. Or maybe someone else will just enjoy listening to other people’s ideas. This club is really about seeing different perspectives.”

Kavanaugh placed his left hand under his chin while he thought about what he wanted members to gain from this club.

“I hope they gain greater zeal for life, a greater hunger for truth, a stronger desire to ask questions about life.”