12:555 Sacraments of Reconciliation

Rev. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M., S.T.D.
Professor of Sacramental / Liturgical Theology

Saint Meinrad School of Theology
Spring Semester 2002-- Three Credit Hours

Course Description

Assigned Reading

Course Objectives

Course Method and Strategies

Schedule of Topics and Assignments

January-February

March

April-May

Course Requirements

Evaluation and Grading

Note on Plagiarism

This course is designed for theology students who are seeking ordination to the Roman Catholic presbyterate. The primary objective of the course is to help priests celebrate the Sacraments of Reconciliation intelligently and fruitfully. The course begins with a reflection on the dynamics of interpersonal forgiveness and the theological implications of this dynamic. The history of the ways in which the Church as Sacrament of Reconciliation has exercised its mission of forgiveness forms the second part of the course. With this background, the course studies the Rite of Penance and its implementation in today’s parish.  The "practicum" on "hearing confessions" forms a part of the course.

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Assigned Reading

Enright, Robert D. and North, Joanna (Editors). Exploring Forgiveness. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1994. ISBN 0-299-15774-1. (=Enright)

Dallen, James. The Reconciling Community: The Rite of Penance. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1986. Paper. 446 pp. $19.95, ISBN 0-8146-6076-2. (= Dallen)

The Rite of Penance. (Any edition.) (= RP)  The Rite of Penance, New York:  Catholic Book Publishing Co, 1975 ISBN not listed.  To my knowledge, the "Catholic Book" edition is the only "ritual" edition of the rite currently [2002] available; however, it does not contain the revised introduction.  The current text can be found in:  The Rites of the Catholic Church, Volume I. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1991. ISBN 0-8146-6015-0. 

Stasiak, Kurt. A Confessor‘s Handbook. New York: Paulist Press. 1999. $11.95. ISBN 0-8091-3914-6 (=Stasiak)

Martos, Joseph.  Doors to the Sacred: A Historical Introduction to the Sacraments in the Catholic Church.  Revised and updated edition. Liguori MO: Liguori/Triumph. 2001. $21.95. ISBN 0-76480718-8 (=Martos)

Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum. The Liturgical Press. Collegeville, Minnesota.  ISBN # 0-8146-1321-7 Hardback. (Any edition, but I suggest the Collegeville.) (= Sick)

Catechism of the Catholic Church. Washington D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, 1994. ISBN 1-55586-513-5. "Part Two: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery, Section One, Chapter One: The Paschal Mystery in the Age of the Church," nn 1066-1134; Chapter Two: The Sacramental Celebration of the Paschal Mystery," nn 1135-1209. "The Sacraments of Healing," nn 1420-1532. (= CCC)

Code of Canon Law, "Book IV: The Office of Sanctifying in the Church," canons 834-839; "Part I: The Sacraments," canons 840-848; "Title IV: The Sacrament of Penance," canons 960-997 [includes Indulgences]; "Title V: The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick," canons 998-1007. (= CCL)

 

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Course Objectives

The hoped for outcomes of the course are:

1.  Students will be able to explain how the ministry of reconciliation is central to the mission of the Christian Church and to show how the various sacramental/ritual expressions of reconciliation are related to this mission.

2.  Students will know the history of the ways in which the Church has celebrated the forgiveness of sins and be able to show how these various rituals met the pastoral needs of the corresponding historical periods.

3.  Students will be able to function as priest/confessor at the Rite for Reconciliation of Individual Penitents.

4.  Students will be able to plan and prepare a celebration of the Rite for Reconciliation of Several Penitents with Individual Confession and Absolution.

5.  Students will know and be able to give a pastoral explanation of the legislation regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation; in particular those law concerning a) general absolution; b) first reconciliation; and c) when sacramental reconciliation is obligatory.

6.  Students will know the history and theology of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and will be familiar with its ritual structure.

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Course Method and Strategies

Each student is asked to study before the class period the reading assignments listed in this syllabus; and to come to each class prepared  to participate in the discussions and projects, and to actively listen to the lectures.  In addition to the lectures, there will be time for discussing the assigned readings, sharing pastoral experience, and other activities as indicated by the students’ interests and learning needs. Each student is expected to actively participate in the group work, oral presentations, class reports, discussions, sharing of written work, etc. which will comprise the class time.

Each student taking the course for credit is to post on ANGEL the writing assignments indicated in this syllabus (= the topic following "Before Class Write")   The papers are to be posted by 6:00 a.m. on the morning of the class day (so that I can read them before class).  These papers are to indicate that you have read and assimilate the assigned readings and class material and can integrate this material into your own theological understanding and apply it to pastoral situations.  Further instructions on these papers will be given in class.

Each student is to plan and prepare the text for a communal celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (as in Chapter II of the Rite of Penance.) Further instructions on this assignment can be found at r11a_r2.htm

Each M. Div. student is to role-play the part of the priest as the professor plays the part of the penitent during a celebration of the Rite of Reconciliation of Individual Penitents. Further instructions on this assignment will be given in class.

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Schedule of Topics and Assignments

Part 1 Exploring Forgiveness

Class 01: Tuesday, January 29 – Syllabus and Assignments
Before Class Read:  No assignment.
Before Class Write:  No assignment.
During the class time:  Presentation of the syllabus; the reading assignments; course objectives; note on plagiarism.   Marietta Jaeger's dilemma (see Enright pp 9-14.)

Class 02: Friday, February 1 –  Forgiveness, Atonement, Reconciliation
Before Class Read:  Enright i-14.
Before Class Write:  If you were in Marietta Jaeger's position (Enright pp 9-14) what would you have felt/done and why.  (or)  Critique what Marietta did.   
During the class time:  Discussion of your postings on ANGEL.  Goal:  to come to a better understanding of just what is involved in human forgiveness. 

Class 03: Tuesday, February 5 – The Dynamics of Interpersonal Forgiveness
Before Class Read:  Enright, pp 1-74; especially pp 15-34.
Before Class Write:  Those students who were not able for any reason to post the assignment for Class #2 (Friday February 1) please post something by 6:00 a.m. Tuesday, February 5.  Post either a comment on a passage from the Enright book or a comment [or observation or application or reflection] on the Friday, February 1 class discussion.  I want to 1) be sure that everyone has access to ANGEL and knows how to use it; and 2) I want each member of the class to have the opportunity to enter the discussion.   
During the class time:  Discussion of your postings on ANGEL.  Discussion of the dynamics of interpersonal forgiveness.  Worksheet:  1.  State five ways in which the Sacrament of Reconciliation can aid the process of interpersonal forgiveness and reconciliation.  2.  State the five most important things to say (catechesis) to the parents of children preparing for their first celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Class 04: Friday, February 8 – The Theological Implications of Forgiveness
Before Class Read:  Enright, pp 75-161.
Before Class Write:  Define or describe briefly your understanding of the words "Forgiveness," "Penance," "Atonement," and "Reconciliation."
During the class time:  Video:  Teaching segment (7 minutes) from Catholic Update Video V203 Preparing Your Child for First Reconciliation.   [These videos are available for loan from the Saint Meinrad Archabbey Library.  They can be purchased at www.americancatholic.org.]  Discussion.   How can the Sacrament of Reconciliation help people come to  "Forgiveness," "Penance," "Atonement," and "Reconciliation?"   How does God forgive?  What actually happens in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?  Discussion of your postings on ANGEL.

Part 2 History of Reconciliation

Class 05: Tuesday, February 12 – Origins of Christian Reconciliation
Before Class Read:  Dallen, Chapter 1: Origins of Ancient Penance, pp 5-28; and Dallen, Chapter 2: Controversy and Institution, pp 29-55.  Read Martos 275-291.
Before Class Write:  No assignment today.
During the class time:  Part A:  One of the principal things the minister of reconciliation can do is to help the penitent in the process of reframing. ( "... a process whereby the wrongdoer is viewed in context in an attempt to build up a complete picture of the wrongdoer and his actions." (Enright, p 24) Think of an example of "reframing" either in your own life or from a work of literature. Exchange stories with the person next to you. Part B:  Video:  Pardon and Peace, (15 minutes).   Story segment from Catholic Update Video 2001 The God who Reconciles.  [These videos are available for loan from the Saint Meinrad Archabbey Library.  They can be purchased at www.americancatholic.org.]  Describe how the following occur in the story:  forgiveness, penance, atonement, reconciliation, reframing.  Discuss with the person next to you.   Part C:  Presentation of the Historical Grid.   Lecture:  Origins of Canonical Penance.

Class 06: Friday, February 15 – Canonical Penance
Before Class Read:  Dallen, Chapter 3: Canonical Penance and its Liturgy, pp 56-99.
Before Class Write:  No assignment today. 
During the class time:   Individual class members invited to comment on a selection from Dallen's book.  Discussion of the history of Reconciliation.  The rituals of Canonical Penance.  Origins of Celtic Penance.  The role of "penance" in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. 

Class 07: Tuesday, February 19 – Celtic Penance
Before Class Read:  Dallen, Chapter 4: Pastoral Adaptation in the Middle Ages, pp 100-138; and Dallen, Chapter 5: The Origins of Modern Confession, pp 139-167.  Read Martos pp 291-305.
Before Class Write:  Update the Penitentiaries:  Give 5 examples of contemporary "penances"
During the class time:  The positive and negative aspects of Celtic Penance.  Discussion of your postings on ANGEL.

Class 00:  Friday, February 22 – No Class, Long Weekend

Class 08: Tuesday, February 26 – Scholastic Confession
Before Class Read:  Dallen, Chapter 6: Modern Penance and the Counter-Reformation, pp 168-204.
Before Class Write:    No assignment today.
During the class time:    Video:   History of Reconciliation (13 minutes).   Story segment from Catholic Update Video V202 The Church Celebrates the Reconciling God.  [These videos are available for loan from the Saint Meinrad Archabbey Library.  They can be purchased at www.americancatholic.org.]  The positive and negative aspects of Scholastic Confession. 

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Part 3 Current Rites of Reconciliation

Class 09: Friday, March 1 – The Second Vatican Council
Before Class Read:  Dallen, Chapter 7: The Reform of Penance, pp 205-249.  Martos pp 305-324.
Before Class Write:  No assignment today.
During the class time:  Discussion of Joseph Martos' Doors to the Sacred, Chapter IX Reconciliation, pp 275-325.  Discussion of the history of the Rite at the time of the Second Vatican Council.

Class 10: Tuesday, March 5 – The Rite Of Penance, General Introduction
Before Class Read:  Rite of Penance, Introduction #1-30; and Dallen, Chapter 8: Theological Foundations, pp 250-297.
Before Class Write:  Select a passage from Dallen and write a theological reflection on it.  At the beginning of your essay, summarize the passage from Dallen, and give the page on which it is found.
During the class time:  Discussion of the history of the current ritual.   Discussion of the grammatical forms of the absolution prayer.  Distribution of the absolution prayer; instructions for memorizing the prayer by Tuesday, March12; discussion of the content and theology of the prayer.  Distribution of a survey of current Sacramental practice.  Discussion of the various forms in which the Sacrament is celebrated today.

Part 4 The Communal Celebration of the Sacrament

Class 11: Friday, March 8 – The Rite, Chapter Two, Reconciliation of Several Penitents with Individual Confession and Absolution
Before Class Read:  Rite of Penance, Chapter II, Rite for Reconciliation of Several Penitents with Individual Confession and Absolution. #48-59.
Before Class Write:   Work on your script for a Communal Celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (due April 9).  Further instructions on this assignment can be found at r11a_r2.htm
During the class time:  1)  Review of the results of the "survey" taken during the previous period.  Comments and discussion.  2) Video:  witness (3 minutes), teaching (7 minutes) and music segments (4 minutes) from Catholic Update Video V202 The Church Celebrates the Reconciling God.    [These videos are available for loan from the Saint Meinrad Archabbey Library.  They can be purchased at www.americancatholic.org.]  3)  Instructions on the assignment to write a script for Rite Two r11a_r2.htm  due April 9, 2002.  4)  Presentation:  Structure and Elements of the Rite.

Class 12: Tuesday, March 12 – The Rite, Chapter Two, Part 1: Gathering Rites and Part 2:  Story Telling
Before Class Read:  Reconciliation of Penitents, Part 1: Gathering Rites and Part 2: Story Telling.  Before Class Write:   Work on your script for a Communal Celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (due April 9).  Further instructions on this assignment can be found at r11a_r2.htm
During the class time:   Discussion of the reading.

Class 13: Friday, March 15 – The Rite, Chapter Two, Part 3 Reconciling and Part 4 Commissioning. 
Before Class Read:  Reconciliation of Penitents, Part 3: Reconciling and Part 4. Commissioning.
Before Class Write:   Briefly list the major changes in the Sacrament before and after the Second Vatican Council.
During the class time:  Discussion of your postings on ANGEL.   Discussion of the reading.

Class 00:  Tuesday, March 19 – Retreat week
Class 00:  Friday, March 22 – Retreat week
Class 00:  Tuesday, March 26 – Holy Week
Class 00:  Friday, March 29 – Good Friday

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Class 14: Tuesday, April 2 – Grace, Sin, Penance.
Before Class Read: Reconciliation of Penitents, Chapter 8 Grace and Sin
Before Class Write:  On ANGEL, post a definition/description of "sin" and "grace."
During the class time:  The class will not meet today. 

Class 15: Friday, April 5 – The Communal Celebration of the Rite in a Parish Setting.
Before Class Read:  Reconciliation of Penitents,  read those chapters that you have not yet read. 
Before Class Write:   Work on your script for a Communal Celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (due April 9).  Further instructions on this assignment can be found at r11a_r2.htm
During the class time:  The class will not meet today.

Class 16: Tuesday, April 9 – The Rite, Chapter Three
Before Class Read:  Chapter III, Rite for Reconciliation of Several Penitents with General Confession and Absolution, #60-63; and the Short Rite, #64-66; Chapter IV, Various Texts Used in the Celebration of Reconciliation, #67-214; and Appendix 1, Appendix 2, and Appendix 3. 
Before Class Write:    Today bring to class your three-part script for the Communal Celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Further instructions on this assignment can be found at r11a_r2.htm  During the class time:   General Absolution:  When, Why, and Why Not.  [Left over from April 2]  Video:  Teaching segment (7 minutes) from Catholic Update Video 2001 The God who Reconciles.  [These videos are available for loan from the Saint Meinrad Archabbey Library.  They can be purchased at www.americancatholic.org.]  Have Catholics lost their "Sense of Sin"?  Discussion of your April 2 postings on ANGEL.

Part 5 The Individual Celebration of the Sacrament

Class 17: Friday, April 12 – The Rite, Chapter One
Before Class Read:  Rite of Penance, Chapter 1, Rite for Reconciliation of Individual Penitents, #41-47.  Read Stasiak pp 1-48 (and 44-97 so that you can discuss the book with the author during the class period.)
Before Class Write:    No assignment today (Read Fr. Kurt's book).
During the class time:  Fr. Kurt Stasiak will present an overview of his book and answer questions about the text. 

Class 18: Tuesday, April 16 – The Rite, Chapter One (continued).
Before Class Read:  Stasiak pp 49-97
Before Class Write:    No writing assignment today;
During the class time:   Response to questions raised last period.  The lecture notes can be found at  Canon Law and Reconciliation.  Presentation of the Canons: seal, reservations, time and place for Reconciliation, etc.

Class 19: Friday, April 19 – The Rite, Chapter One (continued)
Before Class Read:  Dallen, Chapter 9: Liturgies of Conversion and Reconciliation, pp 298-348.
Before Class Write:   No writing assignment today.
During the class time:  Part One:  Canon Law cont.  Reserved Censures.  Abortion.  Part Two:  Reconciliation of Individual Penitents.  Lecture notes can be found at The Rite: Chapter One.  Role playing, examples, cases.

Part 6 Theological and Pastoral Issues

Class 20: Tuesday, April 23 – Reconciliation and The Code of Canon Law
Before Class Read:  Code of Canon Law, "Book IV: The Office of Sanctifying in the Church," canons 834-839; "Part I: The Sacraments," canons 840-848; "Title IV: The Sacrament of Penance," canons 959-997 [includes Indulgences]; and read Pastoral Companion, pp. 125-150. [Bring these books to class].
Before Class Write:   In a short essay, explain canon 916 as you would to a group of Catechumens.
During the class time:   Discussion of your postings on ANGEL.  Continuation of the presentation on the Rite for Reconciliation of Individual Penitents.  Lecture notes can be found at The Rite: Chapter One.  Role playing, examples, cases.

Class 21: Friday, April 26– Reconciliation and Initiation
Before Class Read:  Code of Canon Law, Canon 913, 914 and CLSA Commentary, pp 1108-1110.
Before Class Write:    In a short essay, explain canon 914 as you would in a talk to parents of children preparing for First Reconciliation.
During the class time:  Video:  Story segment, The Festival Fabric (15 minutes), Witness segment (3 minutes) [Teaching segment (7 minutes)] and Music segment, Johnny’s Tears (6 min) from  Catholic Update Video V203 Preparing Your Child for First Reconciliation.  [These videos are available for loan from the Saint Meinrad Archabbey Library.  They can be purchased at www.americancatholic.org.]  Discussion of your postings on ANGEL.

Class 22: Tuesday, April 30 – Anointing the Sick:  History and Theology
Before Class Read:  Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum. The Liturgical Press. Collegeville, Minnesota.  And read: Joseph Martos, Doors to the Sacred: A Historical Introduction to the Sacraments in the Catholic Church.  Revised and updated edition. Liguori MO: Liguori/Triumph. 2001. $21.95. ISBN 0-76480718-8, Chapter 10, "Anointing," pp 325-350. 
Before Class Write:    No assignment today.
During the class time:  The history and theology of the sacrament.  For the lecture notes on the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick click Bibliography  and History and Theology.

April 30:  Reconciliation Rite One Practicum:  On Tuesday afternoon April 30 and Thursday afternoon May 2 sign up for a 30 minute practice session where you will role play the priest at the Sacrament of Reconciliation Rite 1.Those students who are not studying for the M. Div. degree are excused from this exercise.  A sign-up will be made available during the class period on April 26.  For further information on this exercise, click here.

Class 23: Friday, May 3 – Anointing the Sick:  Liturgy and Catechesis
Before Class Read:  Sick, pp 1-149.  Two issues of Catholic Update on the Anointing of the Sick (which will be provided before this period).
Before Class Write:  Write a Homily for a communal celebration of the Anointing of the Sick in a parish during Sunday Eucharist on the Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 5, 2002, Cycle A.   For more information on this assignment click here
During the class time: Practice anointing and reflecting on the experience.   For the lecture notes on the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick click  Rite of Anointing and Anointing and Canon Law and Anointing:  Pastoral Issues.  Review of the Reconciliation Rite One Practicum. 

Class 24: Tuesday, May 7 – Sacraments of Healing / Catechism of the Catholic Church
Before Class Read: Catechism of the Catholic Church, revised edition, numbers 1420-1532.
Before Class Write:   On ANGEL write an essay stating and explaining the most important things you learned from this course.  You might wish to employ Movements IV and V of Thomas Groome's Catechetical method as you reflect on the semester.   For a review of the Catechetical Method of Thomas Groome, click here.  Do you feel you achieved the course objectives?  Why or why not.  Spend some time reviewing the course before you write this paper. 
During the class time:  Review and critique of the classes' scripts for a Communal Celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation [For the text of these comments click here.].  Review of the presentation of the Sacraments of Healing in the Catechism.  Bring the Catechism to class.

Conclusions

Class 25: Friday, May 10 –  Conclusions:  Did we get what we wanted? Did we arrive where we set out to go?
Before Class Read:  Dallen, Chapter 10: Shaping the Future, pp349-407.
Before Class Write:  No writing assignment.
During the class time:   Comments on Dallen.  Discussion of your postings on ANGEL.  Concluding thoughts and discussion.  Process comments. Fill out the evaluation forms for the school.

Class 00:  Saturday, May 11 – Graduation

Class 00: Tuesday, May 14 – The class will not meet today.

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Course Requirements

1. Technology.  Participants in this course are expected to have a personal computer or access to a computer. The ability to access websites and download and print files, the ability to send and receive e-mails, and the ability to post essays and enter into discussion on ANGEL.

2. Reading.  Participants are expected to read the materials listed in the syllabus above and to read and review the class lectures which are given as hyperlinks in the syllabus.

3. Written Assignments.  Participants are expected to complete the written assignments given in the syllabus above unless otherwise noted all written assignments are to be posted on ANGEL. Assignments that are due "before class" are to be posted on ANGEL a minimum of 4 hours before the beginning of the class period. For example, if the class begins at 10:00 AM the homework is to be posted by 6:00 AM (It may, of course, be posted earlier). This will give me time to read the postings evaluate them and make adjustments in the class presentation as needed.

4. Class Participation.  Each participant is expected to actively participate in the group work, oral presentations, class reports, discussions, sharing of written work, etc. which will comprise the class time.  Absences from class for reasons other than illness are to have the prior approval of the professor.  [For weekend courses, no student may miss an entire weekend and still receive credit for the course.] The participants are expected to participate in class discussions, projects, etc. Students will be evaluated on their ability to articulate to the professor and the other participants what they have read and learned; their ability to enter into dialogue with and to critique the findings of the other participants; the quality of their insight into the process, the method, and the content of the course; and their ability to apply these findings to pastoral situations.  Each participant is expected to actively participate in the group work, oral presentations, class reports, discussions, sharing of written work, etc. which will comprise the class time.

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Evaluation and Grading

The participants will be evaluated on class participation and on the written assignments. 

Summary of the writing assignments and their relative point value

05 points Class #2   Marietta Jaeger's dilemma
00 points Class #3  
05 points Class #4   Forgiveness, Penance, Atonement, Reconciliation
00 points Class #5     
00 points Class #6  
05 points Class #7   Five Penances
00 points Class #8  
00 points Class #9  
05 points Class#10   Passage from Dallen.
00 points Class #11
00 points Class #12
05 points Class #13 Major changes in the Sacrament before and after Vatican II
[Easter Break]
05 points Class #14 Define/Describe:  Sin.  Define/Describe: Grace.
00 points Class #15
30 points Class #16 Three Part Script for a Communal Sacrament
00 points Class #17
20 points Class #18 [Rite One Practicum]
00 points Class #19
05 points Class #20 Canon 196 (Confession of mortal sins before Communion)
05 points Class #21 Canon 194 (First Reconciliation before First Eucharist)
00 points Class #22
05 points Class #23 Homily for a Communal Anointing
05 points Class #24 Conclusion Essay
00 points Class #25 

Total 100 possible points.  I will give up to another 5 points to those students who throughout the course of the semester contribute positively to the discussions in class.  I will deduct up to 5 points from those students who hinder the progress of the class by their comments or actions.  I will add up to another 5 points to those who engage in discussion with classmates on ANGEL.

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Plagiarism

Saint Meinrad School of Theology is committed to creating an intellectual environment in which both faculty and students participate in the free and honorable pursuit of knowledge.  Therefore, all work submitted by students is presumed to be their own.  Any violation of academic integrity - cheating, plagiarism, or collusion - is considered a serious offense.

The penalty for cheating, plagiarism, or collusion will be an "F" for the test, paper, or assignment involved.  Multiple infractions may result in dismissal from the school.  Infractions are reported to the academic dean.  Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the section, "Avoiding Plagiarism," in the Holt Handbook. - Taken from Student Handbook, rule of Life, Intellectual Formation pg. 6.

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 © Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 10/28/10 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at webmaster@tomrichstatter.org.