My name is Father Gabriel. I have been working at NMSU for the past five years, but not consecutively. I am originally from Philadelphia but I have lived in Chicago, New Haven CT and other cities in Pennsylvania.
My PhD is in theology and literature, but I have done extensive work in Greek, Hebrew, Biblical Studies and, perhaps strange to some, Celtic Studies. People should also know that I am actively engaged as an Orthodox Christian priest, serving St. Anthony of the Desert Orthodox Mission in Las Cruces. Besides teaching at NMSU, I have been teaching at St. Sophia Orthodox Seminary in New Jersey for 13 years, and prior to that in Chicago for 14 years – so I have a long dual career in both ministry and teaching.
Outside of NMSU I enjoy my writing life a lot; my newest book A Staff to the Pilgrim: Meditations on the Way with Nine Celtic Saints, just came out. I cycle many thousands of miles a year for transportation and recreation; I have been a long-time baker, sometimes as a professional artisan baker; and I love art, especially calligraphy and illuminated manuscripts. Whenever possible I enjoy being with family but my adult children are spread from Prague, Czech Republic, to Northern California. I’m not that widely traveled but Prague is a wonderful city, and I love the British Isles partially because my paternal family migrated only in the last generations. We have a family home in Big Bear CA which is wonderful to retreat to a few weeks each year.
I am involved in some charity work. Locally I have been engaged in a variety of bicycle-related projects, including Ride Right Ride Bright, a service to homeless cyclists; I serve on the Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee of the country, as secretary of Velo Cruces, our local advocacy group, and for a number of months have been working to form a group to open an earn-a-bike program for underprivileged children.
I have always preferred books, both non-fiction and fiction, from cultures other than my own. One favorite author is Bohumil Hrabal, a Czech writer with a wickedly satirical edge and deep insights into his culture. As could be predicted I have a few favorite quotes from the Bible, but I have always liked the motto from my college literary society. We did not have fraternities and sororities, we had literary societies, essentially the same thing but with no houses. I belonged to the Catonian Society (named for the Roman statesman and historian Cato) and the motto was suaviter in modo, fortiter in re; “gently in manner, strong in deed.” I hoped I’ve lived up to it all these years.
One thing I would change about the Honors College is despite the limitation of classes to 15 students, the rooms still feel a bit cramped. I don’t know how to overcome this, because the building is overall warm and welcoming, but the setup makes eye contact difficult and sometimes obscures interaction.
My advice to students is don’t be too convinced too early about anything, but particularly about a career. Remain flexible and open to the winds of change, but ground yourself as firmly as you can in the basics of a liberal education. You can always add skills and technical knowledge to that basis.
I would recommend the Honors College to students. Aside from the interesting array of courses available with good professors, I think that the administration and staff of the Honors College are among the most engaged and engaging folks I’ve ever met. They are genuinely focused on assisting students to become the very best they can be. The Honors College is a place that can help you to flourish, to spread your wings, and to explore new avenues you hadn’t thought of before.