Teacher Feature: Mrs. Antico

Teacher+Feature%3A+Mrs.+Antico

Emma Brading

A new teacher and advocate at the Academy, Mrs. Antico is a new addition to the religion department. Despite this being her first year teaching, she has brought a new and fresh teaching style to the topics of Catholicism, scripture, and social justice. Rather than frequently testing and quizzing her students, she takes a different approach, making Catholicism something young women can enjoy learning about and relate to. Mrs. Antico is an excellent educator and example of a Catholic feminist, constantly extending a notion of kindness, love, and acceptance–what Catholicism is truly all about. 

Mrs. Antico has been a Catholic since childhood, never questioning her faith in God and frequently praying to Mary and Jesus. However, she has had moments of questioning the Church, especially regarding the treatment and portrayal of women. One thing that contributed to her love of Catholicism was her interest in archaeology and history. Specifically, what was a truly defining moment in her faith was having her children and not wanting them to walk away from the Church. These interests and experiences are what initially made her aware of the patriarchy in the Church. The crucial moment of this though, was when her daughters were in middle school. They were excited to become involved in the mass now that they were old enough to actually have a role. However, they soon got the message that they were less important than the boys at school and in the Church. This infuriated Mrs. Antico, eventually leading her to get her masters in theology. She always knew that what the patriarchy said in the Church was not real, but she had a newfound passion in wanting to spread her ideas. To do this, she knew she needed a basis of fact and knowledge; this basis would come from her studies while earning her masters degree.  

In the beginning of her teaching journey (as recently as September and October), it was incredibly stressful. She was worried both about her students not becoming engaged in her class and also if she was “crossing the line” with her teachings. She said herself while being interviewed that she is not an “actual teacher”, so she had no idea what to expect in the early stages of the year. However, with her goal of empowering young women, she learned as she went and soon found that her students were engaging more and more. In fact, the main reason she wanted to teach at the Academy in the first place was because she wanted girls to feel closer to God and their faith–something that is often not paid much or any mind to. She wanted to inspire and make sure that young women knew just how important they were in the Bible. She also wanted her students to not only learn more about the Bible, but also to think critically while reading it. For example, while being interviewed, she said that what the freshman Scripture class is learning is very similar to that of what a college-level theology course would teach. 

One thing many have noticed and pointed out during Mrs. Antico’s time at the Academy is her unique style of teaching. When asked about how she formatted her curriculum, she said that she basically completely changed it. Realizing just how outdated the textbook was, she decided to stray away from it, and strictly focus on the women of the Bible and the feminine side of the Church and God. She has also focused on teaching from the Hebrew Bible; a part of the Bible where many references to women are located (the Divine Sophia, Miriam, etc.). She felt this aspect of her teaching was crucial since many people do not truly know the Bible and it is time for new interpretations. In fact, since it is very upsetting for her to see others use the Bible as “evidence” for bigotry, she actually hopes to teach a religion class for adults, opening their eyes to refreshing and new ideas. She also said that she is never trying to convince her students of anything, rather, she is just giving them the facts they need to follow their faith journey. 

When asked if she has faced any opposition for how and what she teaches, she said, “definitely.” However, she knows that she is on the right path. Also, much of this confusion comes from people’s confusion on what a feminist Catholic is. According to her, a feminist Catholic is someone who is strong in their faith and advocates for women in leadership roles. Finally, her advice to any students reading is, “You’re the future of the Church” and to not give up and walk away from the Church just because it is difficult. She encourages young women to make change happen and fight for our equal place in religion.