Sarah Fellona, a practicing trial lawyer, wife of an active duty Air Force colonel, and mother of four, recently earned her MA (Theology) degree while living in Germany, Italy, and the United States due to her husband’s military service.
“CDU’s flexible platform made it possible for me to continue my studies despite moves to three different countries,” Sarah says. “As long as I had my laptop and access to the internet, I could connect to my classrooms anywhere in the world. I also really enjoyed interacting with people from many different walks of life who lived all over the world. I met so many great people and felt comforted that I was not alone in my desire to learn more about the Faith.”
Eager to share what she has learned at CDU with others, Sarah serves as the coordinator of rites at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Columbia, South Carolina, where she directs the RCIA program, teaches confirmation classes, and coordinates baptisms. “It is a joy to help ignite the fire of passion for God with those seeking the sacraments of initiation!” she says.
The study of theology benefitted Sarah’s practice of law. “Despite our cultural slant on the legal profession, at its core the law serves to do justice. From that standpoint, as a trial lawyer I find myself much less combative and much more compassionate,” she says.
“I am much more prepared to witness, evangelize, and humbly defend the faith through everyday encounters in my profession. That said, God has allowed me to use theology in interesting and creative ways in trial practice,” Sarah adds. “I tried a case in September in which it so happened that the daily readings I heard at Mass the last day of the trial fit perfectly into my closing argument. It is a blessing to fully live out the Faith in everyday life even at work.”
Studying theology also led her to desire a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ. “St. Anslem said that theology is ‘faith seeking understanding,’ but in studying theology I experienced the dynamic of understanding seeking greater faith,” Sarah says. “The more I learned, the more I desired to know, love, and serve God. I realized that without a vibrant spiritual life of prayer and sacraments, I did not fully grasp what was being taught in my theology classes.” When Sarah started at CDU, she attended Sunday Mass and an all-school Mass on Fridays with her children. “Now, daily mass is the bedrock of my day,” she says.
Sarah completed her Master’s degree 4 years after enrolling in the program. She took a 1-year break while living in Rome to earn a Diploma in Spirituality from the Angelicum, and the foundation in theology she had gained at CDU was instrumental. “I had finished 2 years at CDU when we learned we were being stationed in Rome. I was very fortunate that my coursework gave me enough of a foundation in theology to be accepted into the Spirituality program at the Angelicum,” she says. While in Rome from 2017-2018, Sarah took 12 classes over 2 semesters at the Angelicum to earn the diploma.
A few of Sarah’s favorite classes at CDU were Revelation & Faith: Fundamental Theology, Philosophy for Theology with Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, Pentateuch with Professor John Worgul, and Defending the Faith in the Modern World with Professor Chris Padgett.
“Studying theology was pure joy,” Sarah says. “I could not learn enough fast enough to satisfy my hunger to know God more. But it wasn’t until I began to take my spiritual life more seriously that theology came alive for me,” she reflects. “It wasn’t head knowledge that helped me understand the Faith more, but heart knowledge born of sacraments and prayer. The heart knowledge I began to acquire, however, was the progression of study.”
Sarah is grateful to her husband and four children, ages 16, 14, 13, and 10, for their support while she worked toward her MA degree. “Not only did they accommodate the time needed to work on classes, they were actively interested in what I was learning and always prayed for me,” she says.