By Christopher M. Riggs
The intensive Italian is over, the intensive studying has begun – and Father Jason Borkenhagen is enjoying every minute of it.
The priest of the Diocese of Wichita, who served as pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Parsons for the last 12 years, is studying theology and priestly formation in Rome at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, known as the Angelicum, and at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, known as Santa Croce.
Father Borkenhagen is living at Casa Santa Maria, a residence for graduate priest students of the North American College, just around the corner from the Trevi Fountain in Rome.
During lunch Saturday, Dec. 16, at a restaurant near the Spanish Steps in Rome, Father Borkenhagen talked about how much he enjoyed studying Italian in Assisi, and praying where St. Francis, St. Clare, and St. Rufino prayed.
“I went out to a place where St. Francis would go away into the woods and pray,” he said. “And Italian is such a beautiful language to learn, so I really enjoyed that.”
He added that he got to know many people while in Assisi. “It reminded me of the Middle Ages because people come to the hotel…from all over the world. You get to know a little bit about them and you will never see them again. On their way they go!”
After the intensive Italian Father Borkenhagen moved to the Casa for a week of orientation and then classes.
He said he is enjoying studying the doctrine of revelation and the development of doctrine.
“I love studying from a scholastic point of view,” he said. “My teachers have such a strong foundation in St. Thomas, but they’re not just medievalists, they can still operate in the modern world theologically.”
Fr. Borkenhagen said he especially enjoys studying with the many good priests from all over the United States.
The diocese is a bit of a celebrity, though.
“You try not to be prideful because they (the other priests) all know Wichita,” he said. “I try. I don’t always succeed. We’re just well-known – in a good way.”
Father Borkenhagen was able to fly home to spend Christmas with family and friends before returning to his studies in January.