Engineer finds theology more than just academic
A few years ago, Kim Hayes was an electrical engineer working
for a contract manufacturing firm in Bloomington, IL. As she became
involved in her parish - participating in Scripture study, Just
Faith and other spirituality programs - the academic in her began
looking at graduate theology programs.
She had never heard of Saint Meinrad, but a friend who is an
alumnus suggested she take a look. "Coming here with an engineering
background, I figured I'd take these classes, I'd get my degree and
I'd learn it," Kim says. An academic exercise, primarily, although
she was also drawn by the spiritual formation program.
Not surprisingly, the master's-degree weekend courses she began
at Saint Meinrad in Fall 2010 sparked more questions and more
interest. She fell in love with the place and the process.
"In some respects, it's like being on retreat," she says. "Yeah,
it's an academic retreat, but it really is kind of getting away and
being able to take a step back."
The rural setting is a nice change from the urban area where Kim
works, and she enjoys the spirit of community she's found among the
students. "I drive up on the Hill and I think, 'Oh, I'm home.'"
More times than she can count, a new insight or a particular
class has occurred at just the right time. "I've had several
classes come at a time that couldn't be better," Kim notes.
When she took a class that explained centering prayer and prayer
journaling, she used the techniques to discern whether to change
jobs. She decided to quit her engineering job and become the
full-time youth coordinator at St. Patrick Church of Merna in
Bloomington. Two courses in particular, "Adolescent Spirituality"
and "Teaching and Preaching," have been invaluable in her new
The spiritual formation Kim found at Saint Meinrad was an added
benefit. She began a spiritual formation program for credit, which
led to other workshops and retreats. "And then…I really got into
doing all the monk prayers…while I'm here," she says. "For me, not
being a morning person, it's some act of God that I get up and go
to 5:30 a.m. prayer."
With four courses and a final project left to do, Kim isn't sure
where this degree is taking her. "I wanted to go work for a parish
or the Church in some aspect. I really didn't know where, when and
how. I knew that, eventually, I'd leave the world of engineering."
Kim has already answered God's call in changing her career path.
She remains open to God's will in her life, whether that means
continuing her studies or taking on a different role in serving the
Kim recognizes with gratitude that she is a different person
from the one who enrolled three years ago. "It definitely has
changed me. It's really hard to quantify it, but I guess it's less
about the black-and-white of engineering than it is just being and