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Senior Rachel Lyter Named Röpke-Wojtyła Fellow

Rachel Lyter, a senior business major and theology minor, is one of 15 students nationwide to be awarded the Röpke-Wojtyła Fellowship for 2020-21. The highly-competitive Röpke-Wojtyła Fellowship, sponsored by The Catholic University of America, educates future Catholic intellectuals and business leaders in social thought, especially as it pertains to society, economic systems, business and religion and in regards to Catholic social thought.

 rachel-lyter_headshot-1-in-text.jpg“I look forward to the intellectual and networking experiences it will bring during my senior year,” said Lyter, who will be part of the program’s fourth cohort. “Reading the description of the Röpke-Wojtyła Fellowship for the first time excited me as it aligned with my previous academic coursework and personal intellectual interests.”

As part of the Fellowship, Lyter will receive a $3,500 stipend and participate in three one-day colloquia in Washington, D.C., with a fourth gathering in Rome. Fellows enjoy meals, Mass, discussion sessions and hear inspiring scholars discuss topics on history, philosophy, political economy, politics and sociology. Fellows will study such works as John Ruskin’s critique of political economy, St. Thomas Aquinas’ work on natural law, Charles Babbage’s analysis of automation, Rӧpke’s assessment of the social framework for the market order and Wojtyła’s philosophy of the human person.

“I am most excited to expand my knowledge through exposure to works from philosophers, economists and theologians as we explore aspects of Catholic social thought,” Lyter added.

Founded in 2017 and named for Wilhelm Rӧpke, the late economist, and Karol Józef Wojtyła, better known as John Paul II, the Röpke-Wojtyła Fellowship encourages young Catholics to explore important questions of social philosophy, such as the makings of a good society, the civilizing aspect of commerce and the tensions between markets and community.

 “I feel the discussions fostered by the program leaders based on classic texts will lead me to a higher integration of knowledge between my study of the market and society. I also pray that conditions will allow our cohort to travel to Rome in May 2021 for a weeklong pilgrimage,” said Lyter, who participated in a Mount trip to Italy in summer 2019 and is excited to return.

This year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the October gathering, typically held in Washington, D.C., will be held online. “Decisions about the 2021 gatherings will be made in due course, depending on how the virus situation evolves,” confirmed Candace Mottice, the program’s director.

“We are proud of what Rachel has achieved and I am certain this is just the beginning for her. Accomplishments like this, with the conditions worked under last semester, are all the greater still,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Ed.D., dean of the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business.

A native of York, Pennsylvania, Lyter will return to the Mount this fall and work as a resident assistant. “This semester I am most excited to take Political Theology with Dr. Barrett Turner as I think it will complement my readings and preparation for discussions at the four Röpke-Wojtyła colloquia,” she shared.

Lyter is also one of three recipients of the Mount’s William G. McGowan Endowed Scholarship which is awarded to rising juniors in the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business. She served as a writing tutor in the Writing Center, a laptop scribe for Learning Services and a phonathon caller for the Office of Alumni Engagement. She also helped coordinate trips for Mount students to volunteer at the local Catoctin Pregnancy Center through the Mount’s Students for Life club. Last fall she was the business correspondent for the Mountain Echo and served on the executive board of the Women in Business Club since its founding in the fall of 2019. Lyter also interned at faith-based, a Mount alumni-owned and Emmitsburg-based small business. After graduation next year, she plans to work toward becoming a small business owner.

She acknowledges the opportunities at the Mount to immerse herself in the study of the market and delve into rich theological texts. She is also thankful for the guidance of her professors. Two courses, Foundations of Philosophy and Ethics and the Human Good, taught her how a just society serves the common good—and will serve her well during her fellowship.

She is grateful for Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Office of Competitive Fellowships Jamie Gianoutsos, Ph.D., for assistance with her application materials, Assistant Professor of Business Christina Yoder, Ph.D., for her support as her academic advisor and Associate Professor of Economics Alejandro Cañadas, Ph.D. for making important theological and real-world connections within his courses.”

Canadas taught Lyter in Spring 2019. His course, offered by the School of Business and the Department of Theology, Biblical Spirituality for Business Leaders, explored how to help business students balance their faith and their work—and how a career within the marketplace allows individuals to shape society toward a common good while fulfilling a personal vocation.

“I loved having Rachel in my class because she is always seeking to grow her faith, work hard and help others,” Cañadas said.

When considering a thought or leader who has guided her journey, Lyter references Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, an Italian Roman Catholic social activist: “He wrote on a photo of himself scaling a mountain: ‘verso l’alto’ which translates to ‘to the heights.’ At my own mountain home I am always striving to do my best and following the path on which that leads me.”

Mount St. Mary’s University’s Office of Competitive Fellowships assists students and alumni of the Mount community with the application process for highly competitive and distinguished awards, such as the Fulbright, Marshall, Rhodes, Goldwater and Gates Cambridge Scholarship. In 2020 eight students and one alumnus/adjunct professor were recipients of such prestigious invitations.