Elizabeth "Biz" Wittschen
Religion Department Chair
Always Our Children Moderator
What do you enjoy about teaching at Visitation?
I love the students and their desire to learn and grow, their work ethic, their desire to serve others; to be women of faith and to put that faith—along with their joy, love of life, and enthusiasm—into service. They do all this with critical minds and open hearts.
What do you hope your students learn in your classes?
I hope my students learn to look critically at the world (laws, societal norms, and cultures) and ask how being a woman of faith changes the way we engage with others and the world. I hope my students wrestle with the question “How can I use my gifts in service to others?”—and, in particular, “How can I use them on behalf of the marginalized?”
In what ways does our Salesian charism inform and inspire your work with students?
Salesian Spirituality is deeply relational. It has its origins in the relationship between St. Jane de Chantal and St. Francis de Sales, and so much of the spiritually comes directly from their friendship. Their relationship teaches us that relationships are essential to leading a holy life. I try to honor this essential component of Salesian Spirituality in my work with students as we work on class projects and in small groups. It is through these interactions and relationships that students will know, understand, and love God.
What is unique about Visi's religion program?
While our department follows the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ curriculum, we also offer two unique courses: junior-year Catholic Social Teaching and senior-year Bioethics and Moral Decision Making. These classes provide students with a Catholic framework for responding to injustice and the problems facing our world. This framework is rooted in our knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ, Scripture, and the history of the Church.
The members of the Religion Department are committed to teaching both the hearts and minds of our students. We understand that our job is not just to ensure the academic growth of our students, but their spiritual development as well. We accompany our students as they develop their relationship with God--whether Catholic or not--through daily prayer and meditation in class, at daily mass, on retreats, and on service trips.
Why is Bioethics so valuable for students?
I want my students to connect in meaningful ways to their coursework, and Bioethics appeals to their varied interests. My students have all been touched by pertinent bioethical issues, many have witnessed a loved one suffer from injury or disease, and they are passionate about informed consent and autonomy. High school seniors are in a constant search for meaning. Bioethics lends itself to critical thinking and questioning. Students ask, “Why am I here?”, “What does it mean to be human?”, “What is the role of suffering in my life?” They are eager to seek answers and debate issues. They are pushed to their limits; their engagement and interest is palpable.
Biz has been teaching at Visitation for almost 20 years. She holds a B.A. in Religious Studies with a concentration in Peace Studies from the College of the Holy Cross.