Professor Profile

Dr. Michael Waldstein

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Professor Profile

Dr. Michael Waldstein

Theology professor talks about his journey from Salzburg to Steubenville.

Summer 2023 | Jessica Walker

In This Article

Dr. Michael Waldstein has always been captivated by beauty. While growing up in Salzburg, Austria, he recalls his parents discussing theology and philosophy with family friends, including Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand who “showed us how to look at paintings and landscape and how to talk about music.”

Then, in high school, he was introduced to the writings of Hans Urs von Balthasar.

“For me, it was like an explosion,” he says, noting Balthasar’s writings expressed a “depth of perception of beauty and the capacity to communicate it.”

He went to Thomas Aquinas College, where he met his wife, Susan; the two married shortly after Susan’s graduation in 1978. The ensuing years took the couple around the world as he studied at the University of Dallas, Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, and Harvard Divinity School. It was while in Rome that he met Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the encouragement of the cardinal’s American secretary.

“I remember on the way there thinking, ‘Why am I wasting his time? He has so much to do,’ but the cardinal was immensely gracious,” he says.

He would become part of a group of theologians who met with Cardinal Ratzinger annually until the cardinal’s election to the papacy.

After completing his studies, Waldstein taught at the University of Notre Dame. Then, in 1996, he was invited to help found the International Theological Institute in Gaming, Austria. The Waldstein family spent the next 12 years as neighbors of Franciscan University’s study abroad program, raising their eight children in a “wonderful house up in the mountains.”

While at the institute, Waldstein began delving deeper into a now-fundamental topic of his work—Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

“Because I knew Italian having studied in Rome, I compared the Italian text John Paul delivered with the English translation, and there were many problems,” he says. So, although writing a different book at the time, “I began translating little pieces of the text.”

Those little pieces grew into Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, a highly acclaimed translation of the Theology of the Body texts, published in 2006. In 2021, he also published Glory of the Logos in the Flesh: St. John Paul’s Theology of the Body, which was the book he had initially started.

Following his time in Austria, Waldstein taught at Ave Maria University. Then, in 2018, he came to Steubenville to help develop a doctoral theology program (currently in the accreditation review process) at Franciscan.

He also teaches several undergraduate and graduate theology classes, including courses on Theology of the Body and the Gospel of John. He shares an office with another Dr. Waldstein—Susan—who also teaches theology.

“At Franciscan University, you can presuppose a love for Christ in most students. That makes a huge difference,” he says. “It’s a joy to teach these students.”

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