The 2013 Durstan R McDonald Teaching Award
Heather Catto Kohout
Alumna, native of San Antonio, published poet, dedicated rower, freelance theology teacher. You teach a message of gratitude, ethical living, curiosity, devotion and a healthy dose of skepticism in your life, your work and with your beloved children Lizzie, Tito and Thea.
The daughter of a business man and diplomat and a conservationist, journalist and philanthropist, your formal education was enriched by parents who taught through their ideals and through appreciation of culture, through creation of home in unfamiliar places, and through encouraging your careful articulation of insights and opinions on the things that matter to you.
You earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Williams College and a master’s degree in English from The University of Texas at Austin. Surprising friends and family, and perhaps even yourself, you enrolled at Seminary of the Southwest in the late ‘90s, earning a master of arts in religion. Your thesis, “Pondering Luke in the Heart: Addresses to Reluctant Christians,” hints at your thoughtful critique of a too-easy acceptance of the stories of our faith.
The introduction to your thesis ends this way: “ . . . I have no intention of making any major theological claims. What I mean to do is to reassure myself and people like me, who are struggling to meet stories of the Bible with open hearts and minds, that we are not meant to know what the gospel means right away, and that in our struggle the world will turn ponderously under our feet, and the rich will share with the poor, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, the foolish will become wise. Carefully. Suspiciously. Slowly.”
Your teaching gifts have been recognized by your church home, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, and by Seton Cove Spirituality Center. But your attention has been more recently focused on Madroño Ranch, on which you have created with your husband Martin, a center for writing, art and the environment in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. Here your ideals converge for the benefit of visiting artists, for the delighted readers of your rich blog posts, and for the laying hens and the bison that roam the pastures.
Through writing and rowing, you teach. Not overtly, but through the beauty, the poetry and the doing. In recognition for your wisdom, sharp wit, honesty and insights shared with the communities you inhabit, we are pleased to present you with the 2013 Durstan R McDonald Teaching Award.
Cynthia Briggs Kittredge Nathan Jennings
Dean and President Faculty Secretary