Plotinus in the Jungle

Cookbooks in the jungle: a review

When we first started packing to come to PNG, this was one of the first questions to spring to my mind: which cookbooks to bring? Now, three years of field testing later, I can tell you what I brought and my thoughts thereunto.

Most of the cookbooks I brought were by organizations with a long history of sending people off to other lands, where you will have to substitute, improvise, and make ingredients from scratch. First off, the Mennonite cookbooks, partially inspired by the Mennonite Central Committee missions. All of their cookbooks use moderate amounts of meat if and when meat is called for.  Each one has little quotes or reflections on almost every page and introducing each chapter.

More-With-Less: The Classic Mennonite cookbook. American dishes, plus some international favorites. Large granola section. From a slightly different era, (all the dried soybeans!) but still useful. What recipe I cook the most: bierrocks, oatmeal bread, tortillas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simply In Season: The handy organized-by-season feature doesn’t really help that much when living in the mountains by the equator. Asparagus, tomatoes, pumpkins, and cabbage are all available fresh all year round, so I skip around frequently. But I used that feature when I was in the US and figuring out how to cook my CSA allotments, which was invaluable experience for being in PNG- learning to cook in a vegetable-centric manner. What recipe I cook the most: focaccia, curried beans and potatoes, broccoli-potato soup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extending the Table: The international one of the trio. Lots of bean recipes and curry recipes. Liturgical-living wise, it is nice that it divides up the main dishes into “everyday” with mostly vegetarian and small amounts of meat, and “feasting” dishes, with more meat.I just used it today to make pita bread and I felt very proud of myself. What recipe I cook the most: chickpea curry, potatoes with creamy tomato sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wycliffe, or Summer Language Institute (SIL) has a large presence in PNG, but they can be found all over the world translating the Bible.

The Wycliffe Cookbook, newest edition: great at telling you how to create ingredients: how to use powdered milk to make farmers’ cheese, substitute for sweetened condensed milk, etc. If we were living more remotely, has additional sections that would be useful- how to cook over open fires, inside baskets. What recipe I cook the most: favorite pancakes.

 

 

 

I have since arriving picked up a copy of “Yummy Ukuarumpa Meals” produced by the SIL headquarters here in PNG. It varies in how much access to store goods it assumes you have; we fall somewhere in the middle, so various recipes on one side of the scale or the other aren’t that applicable (I tend to skip the village ones that assume your main meat source is spam, and I also have to forgo the ones that call for cream cheese). What recipe I make the most: Buttermilk Yeast Rolls and Italian Sausage.

The Joy of Cooking, 1963 edition complete with diagrams of skinned squirrels and recommendations for what to do with snapping turtles (answer: feed them bread to clean them out for a few days first). Large section informing you about ingredients. Very comprehensive, but again, from a different era (so many things covered in gelatin)! What recipe I cook the most: Guava Jelly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also received a copy of Whole Foods for the Whole World by La Leche League from someone who was “going finish.” It assumes more access to tofu and other “crunchy” ingredients then is possible in PNG, but it has some nice recipes for more restaurant-like meals – gyros were a hit and I have ambitions of making chicken mole. What recipe I cook most: Eggplant Sauce.

 

 

 

Since I left the King Arthur Flour cookbook in the US (it is a big hefty volume and would have been hard to fit in our initial luggage) I also read the King Arthur Flour blog Flourish for baking ideas. They can stray a bit into plugging their own products like fancy sugars or specialty baking tins, though. What I cook the most: Spinach Calzone.

What I really need to do in the cooking realm is actually make and execute meal plans. I’ve gotten as far as “know what’s for dinner by 10 am” but planning out a whole week or even month is currently not happening. It’s a little tricky when perishable ingredients just show up on our doorstep (8 ears of corn! a stalk of cooking bananas!). Give me all your menu planning secrets in the comments.

Beginning of the Year of Mercy

This post is about a pilgrimage that Annie, Tabitha, and I did last December (2015) at the opening of the Mercy Door at the local Divine Mercy Shrine in Jiwaka Province.  For my non-Catholic readers, Pope Francis declared that the 2016 liturgical year (Dec 2015-Nov 2016) is a Year of Mercy, in which pilgrimage sites were designated at significant churches throughout the world.

Before beginning my post, I ask for mercy and forgiveness for all those that I have unintentionally offended during my stay in Papua New Guinea.  Being in another culture can be difficult, and I know that I have not always navigated the challenges well.  In particular, I ask forgiveness for comments I made regarding the Good Shepherd staff and students when my students boycotted my class in July 2015.  I regret some of the things I wrote and I should not have written so publicly about the incident.  I have deleted some of what I wrote.  At Good Shepherd itself we had a reconciliation mass that ended the affair; I ask for a similar reconciliation for anyone that I have offended though my inappropriate words.

Annie, Tabby, and I woke up before dawn, picked up some local seminarians and working staff from the seminary, and then drove to an outstation called Aviamp along the highway.  We located our previously arranged guide and started off over the foothills for the Divine Mercy Shrine.

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Our guide was very happy to share his sweet bananas with us. We walked by his house and garden.

Our guide, whose name I have sadly forgot, was very happy to tell us stories of the old colonial times.  He said that his clan used to quarry stone from the hills, sharpen them into axe heads, and then trade them for food and women to tribes throughout the Highlands.  Also, the main valley of the Waghi was originally a swamp, so the old Australian patrol road went through the hills we walked.

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There is now a cell tower on top of the ridgeline. Our guide also pointed out where a tree used to stand that the Australian patrol office had shot in order to demonstrate the power of his gun.

 

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Here is our pilgrimage party. The man to the left of Annie is my student, Daniel. The man crouching is our handy man, Michael. My friend James is holding Tabby. The man with the green hat on the right is Andrew, who was in the BA program last year.  Some of the other young me were postulants in the Brothers of Charity.  Some people from Michael and James’s villages also came along.

 

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The first of many gates indicating the way to the Shrine.

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“Mt Anglimp City” is an exaggeration . This place used to be called Kantaimin = Kar turn’em; i.e. the place where the road ended and so cars turned around.

The walk was not as strenuous as I thought it would be.  We arrived near the Shrine well before the service was to begin, so we went to see a local Catholic high school.

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The symbol on the bottom left is the traditional Jiwaka headdress.

 

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The school was quite small, but had a very scenic setting.

 

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Maybe Tabitha should be the school mascot?

 

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We decided to be adventurous and walk through a stream bed to get to the shrine.

 

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You get a good sense of how remote the shrine is from this picture.

 

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The last gate

 

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The girl on the right was named after the Archbishop of Mt. Hagen. Her name is “Douglas Young”!

 

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A mix of western and PNG aesthetics. It’s the most beautiful church I’ve been in in the Highlands.

We loitered around for a few hours, I made my confession, and then we eventually made our way back to the local village for the official procession to the Shrine, which was led by the Archbishop.

 

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As always, my children drew their own crowd.

 

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The Procession begins!

 

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Here’s a gate we missed during our stream walk.

 

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The line for the Mercy Door

 

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The door, after the mass

 

It was a well-organized mass, with lots of good singing and music.  The Archbishop explained well the nature of indulgences and merit in tok pisin.  After a hearty meal, the Archbishop then gave us a ride to our car.  We actually got a flat tire on the way home, but my car full of young gentlemen fixed it for me and the road-side vegetable venders gave us free cucumbers to tide us over.

All in all a good trip, though I want more mountains to cross on my next pilgrimage.

Fatima Parish 60th Anniversary

The founder of Good Shepherd, Fr. Peter von Adrichem, purposely situated it in a parish so that the seminarians would have practical experience and be involved with a community. Fatima Parish celebrated its 60th Anniversary “Diamond Jubilee” earlier this month.

The first day of the three-day festival we skipped, but Anastasia did get to tambourine practice with her Sunday School teacher.

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The second day had the main event of a singsing. Our neighbor Cornelia was going to dance with a group from the Primary School.

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Meriam works on Cornelia’s face paint

Rock-a-bye baby... Tobiah hangs out while Meriam's busy

Rock-a-bye baby… Tobiah hangs out while Meriam’s busy

Tabitha saw her getting ready and said that she wanted to wear bilas too! So I got out the child-size purpur (yarn skirt) that Annie had worn and the feather headband, necklaces and bracelets with it.

She was very happy to be wearing bilas!

She was very happy to be wearing bilas!

Anna Ding puts on her nose paint

Anna Ding puts on her nose paint

But she got tired of waiting...

But she got tired of waiting…

We learned that toddlers should put on their bilas last, because when Tabitha had been done and ready to go for at least 20 minutes and Cornelia had still at least 40 minutes of prep left, Tabitha decided to start taking necklaces off. So, no traditional dancing yet for Tabitha.

We went down to see the singsing at lunchtime. There was a carnival atmosphere and lots of stalls to buy food from; Brandon bought fifteen fried potatoes and some egg sandwiches and we walked around munching and looking at the sights.

Some students from the vocational training school in coastal headdresses

Some students from the vocational training school in coastal headdresses, plus a woman in local garb

We found Cornix in her full regalia, with a proud Anna looking on

We found Cornix in her full regalia, with a proud Anna looking on

To get this girl with the interesting headpiece to smile for the photo, Brandon said "Say "Waitman'!"

To get this girl with the interesting headpiece to smile for the photo, Brandon said “Say “Waitman’!”

The dancing groups were spread out over a large field, showing off their chops to knots of people around them

The dancing groups were spread out over a large field, showing off their chops to knots of people around them

This group from the parish outstation of Mala had beautiful voices

This group from the parish outstation of Mala had beautiful voices

Some groups opted for a fusion asthetic

Some groups opted for a fusion aesthetic

others decided to enter the "modern dance" category

others decided to enter the “modern dance” category

An assembly of salacious skeletons (complete with suggestive hip wiggling?!)

An assembly of salacious skeletons (complete with suggestive hip wiggling?!)

I often see older people with nose piercings, but not often with someone wearing a nose ornament

I often see older people with nose piercings, but someone wearing a nose ornament is rarer

There were also a few comedy sketches - this one was a teacher trying to educate rubes from the bush. I like the pens stuck in his socks.

There were also a few comedy sketches – this one was a teacher trying to educate rubes from the bush. I like the pens stuck in his socks.

Annie's schoolmate Ainsley is ready for an Islander dance

Annie’s schoolmate Ainsley is ready for an Islander dance

The final day of the Jubilee was a mass with the Archbishop. Anastasia had all her practice dancing in the living room come to fulfillment when she got to be part of the procession leading the celebrants in!

An outdoor mass at the Fr. Peter Grandstand; we sat on a blanket at the back

An outdoor mass at the Fr. Peter Grandstand; we sat on a blanket at the back

Annie and the other sundayschool chlidren have one last practice of their moves

Annie and the other sundayschool children have one last practice of their moves

All lined up and ready to go

All lined up and ready to go

Processing!

Processing!

Annie (and now Tabitha too) are still banging tambourines in the house and singing “Diamond Jubilate, everybody, serve the Lord with all your ways! Enter now his gates with singing, enter now his courts with praise. Jubilate, Diamond, Jubilate Deo!”

Happy 60 years, Fatima Parish, we wish you many more!

Tabitha, the two year old

Tabitha likes to help take care of her brother.

Aren't I so helpful?

Aren’t I so helpful?

I'm not sure you have enough books...

I’m not sure you have enough books…

Tabitha loves her birthday present doll carrier and taking walks with it on.

She also likes red cordial

She also likes red cordial

Pink Dolly is also known as Bubu Anna after our neighbor

Pink Dolly is also known as Bubu Anna after our neighbor

On the back is her preferred carrying position

On the back is her preferred carrying position

Tabitha had lots of fun at her joint birthday party with Annie!

Annie and the lunch spread (so many sausages!), plus Dr. Mark slicing oranges

Annie and the lunch spread (so many sausages!), plus Dr. Mark slicing oranges

Guests included the Crouch family from Kudjip and the Daff family from CLTC

Guests included the Crouch family from Kudjip and the Daff family from CLTC

Our neighbors the Dings, Miriam and her family, plus a few of Annie's friends from school and church

Our neighbors the Dings, Miriam and her family, plus a few of Annie’s friends from school and church

Singing Happy Birthday to Tabitha

Singing Happy Birthday to Tabitha

Blowing out candles (Tabitha still needed help with hers)

Blowing out candles (Tabitha still needed help with hers)

Serving cake in the roundhouse

Serving cake in the roundhouse

So much cake! The staff cook made us one too!

So much cake! The staff cook made us one too!

And now off to play games to work off all that frosting...

And now off to play games to work off all that frosting…

First was red light green light, then duck duck goose, then tag.

First was red light green light, then duck duck goose, then tag.

Happy birthday Tabitha! You are sweet and spunky. You require Bingo to be sung after every injury. You wander off several times a day. You love to sing. You want to try all the things Annie does. You make us smile. We love you a lot!

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This picture makes me laugh

Annie, the five-year-old

Anastasia turned five this weekend!

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What is she like these days? When not at school she will probably be found playing hopscotch or practicing writing letters and numbers.

I hear "Is it all right if I go outside and play hopscotch?" about 6 times a day,

I hear “Is it all right if I go outside and play hopscotch?” about 6 times a day

she favors a variant called kickstone, where you both hop and push a stone along with the side of your foot

she favors a variant called kickstone, where you both hop and push a stone along with the side of your foot

If she's indoors you will probably find her like this

If she’s indoors you will probably find her like this

practicing her numbers while sprawled out in the middle of the kitchen floor as I'm making dinner

practicing her numbers while sprawled out in the middle of the kitchen floor as I’m making dinner

Her attention span has really increased in the past year and it shows in the level of detail she can put into a picture, and in the longer stories she can listen to – Brandon got her My Father’s Dragon as a birthday present.

admiring her work

admiring her work

To celebrate the day of her birth, we went to Mt. Hagen Aiport Hotel to enjoy their pool and eat some pizza with our neighbors the Dings.

she has the kicking down but the arm movements not so much

she has the kicking down but the arm movements not so much

Tabitha is a water baby

Tabitha is a water baby

Tobiah and Anna watch the action

Tobiah and Anna watch the action

Cornelia dives in

Cornelia dives in

poolside chat with Elijah

poolside chat with Elijah

wrapped up in a pool noodle

wrapped up in a pool noodle

It was a nice relaxing time.

Cornelia kicks back

Cornelia kicks back

Annie catches some rays with a praying mantis

Annie catches some rays with a praying mantis

Tabitha and Anna singing "Husait i wokim pis i swim"

Tabitha and Anna singing “Husait i wokim pis i swim”

The girls will have a joint birthday party later this week, backyard-style like last year (and the year before!) Annie, you’ve grown so much since we were packing up to come to PNG. We love you!

Stations of the Cross, Melanesian Style

Jesus is condemned to death.

Jesus is condemned to death.

 

Station 02

Jesus carries the cross

 

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Jesus falls the first time

 

station 05

Jesus meets his mother

 

station 04

Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross

 

station 06

Veronica wipes Jesus’ face

 

station 07

Jesus falls the second time

 

station 08

Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

 

station 09

Jesus falls the third time

 

station 10

Jesus is stripped

 

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Jesus is nailed to the cross

 

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Jesus dies on the cross

 

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Jesus is taken down from the cross

 

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Jesus is laid in the tomb

 

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Resurrection

 

These are draft version of the Stations that are displayed in the seminary chapel.  I am afraid that I don’t know the painter.

 

While Jesus was a Hebrew, and thus neither white nor brown-skinned, when we hear that God became man, we imagine Jesus as a man according to our own cultural norms.  It is very important in missions that Jesus is not the God of the white-skins, but the God of all peoples, the universal Logos.  Therefore, I think that it is a good mark of the reception of the Gospel within Melanesian culture that native artists can imagine the Gospel scenes with Melanesians.

 

An often overlooked truth that always comes to my mind when I think about the Stations is that not even Jesus could carry his own cross.  Our crosses are meant to be shared; they are not private burdens.  Alone, our individual crosses will crush us . . .

 

A New School Year, New Life and New Challenges

I, due to the great generosity of my wife, spent the first week of February in Melbourne, attending the Australasian Society for Classical Studies annual conference.  It was great to be around other scholars and to have my own scholarly gifts affirmed!  I delivered a paper on Augustine on Platonism and Creation.  I returned to PNG on the 7th and the 8th was the mass kicking off our new school year!  Here are most of the faculty and students together in the chapel (the light and background there are strange, so it’s not a great picture unfortunately):

IMG_2212  Back row, left to right.  John Ding – a lay man and the director of our program that trains our students to teach religious education classes.  Fr. Thomas – a missionary priest from India, teaches history of philosophy and Scripture.  Fr. Paul Walua – Priest of the local parish in Banz.  He teaches block courses in theology.  Fr. Raphael Mel – Former Dean of Studies, now comes in two days a week to teach pastoral courses.  Fr. Paul Sundu – The rector, teaches church history and systematic theology.  Archbishop Young – Australian missionary, chairman of our governing council.  Peter and Steven – Third-year students, today’s altar servers.  Fr. Joe Mesa – A missionary from Indonesian, our parish priest.  Paul Misic – A seminarian during his pastoral work.  Will probably be ordained as a deacon this year.  Gabriel – Third Year Student.  Rebecca Zimmerman – Bursar extraordinaire!

The men sitting in the front are our students.  The old man in the center is a widower in his 60’s.  He attended minor seminary back in the late 1960’s.  Now his bishop is sending him to do a crash course in theology so that he can be ordained as a priest!  His name is Ansgar Minak.

As some of you may know, Good Shepherd has been having enrollment problems and thus financial problems.  There is a preparatory program that all our students attend before coming here and this program added another year of preparatory studies.  This meant that last year we did not get a new First Year Class and this year we have no Second Year Class.  Last year, there were only 11 residential students by the year’s end.  This year, there are 1o in the first year, 4 in the third year, Ansgar, and three in the non-residential BA program – so 15 residential students; 18 total.  However, if we keep having new classes of 10+, then we’ll have 30 students in two years, which would be closer to the number we need to keep operating.

So please pray for vocations in PNG!

One consequence of not having many students is that it is difficult to get the bishops to assign us all the staff that we need to function well.  The full time residential staff is us, the rector, Fr. Thomas, and Mr. Ding.  Fr. Raphael comes in two days a week.  Fr. Christian Sieland, our Dean of Studies, comes in two and half days.  Fr. Paul Walua is in one morning a week.  Robert, a Marist brother, comes on Fridays to teach computer courses.  This puts a heavy load on the residential staff in supervising the students and running the seminary.  Thus, in addition to my teaching, I serve as the Assistant Dean of Studies, I organize sporting events, I make sure the water pumps are turned on three times a day, I oversee the academic office when the Dean is not here, and I’m also the faculty liaison with the librarian; in addition to directing the BA program.  The last two years have been busy and stressful for me.  Please pray that I am able to balance all my responsibilities and still continue to make progress on my dissertation and have time for my family.

Here are the staff, though without Frs. Raphael and Paul Walua:

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Left to Right: Br. Robert, Fr. Paul, Rebecca, Me, Sister Regina the librarian, Fr. Christian the Dean of Studies, Fr. Thomas.  Mr. Ding is in front.

Annie and the first day of school

Once upon a time there was a girl named Annie.

Playing with a christmas present from Grandma

Playing with a christmas present from Grandma

Her Christmas break was fun but it had come to an end and now it was time to go back to school. Except! This year she was going to a new school.IMG_2200

Her sister would miss her at home.IMG_2161

But her brother would smile at her whenever she turned up. IMG_2155

Monday morning arrived and she got dressed in her uniform and packed her school bag with a snack.

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She got on the bus with her friend Siki and they drove to Banz.

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The principal said a prayer to start the day and read out the names of the students assigned to each class. Annie and Siki were in the same class, Reading Readiness, and so was her new friend Leanne.

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She went into the classroom and met her two teachers, Ms. Ellen and Ms. Corse.

One of these desks is Annie's very own "office!"

One of these desks is Annie’s very own “office!”

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At the end of the day she rode the bus home again.

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Hurray for Annie!

Tobiah’s Baptism

Tobiah was baptized at Good Shepherd on December 31 by the Archbishop of Mt. Hagen, Douglas W. Young, SVD.

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We invited our coworkers at the Seminary, friends from the local community and friends from nearby missions.

Fr. Paul, Deacon Paul, Abp. Doug, and Fr. Andrew get ready

Fr. Paul, the Rector; Seminarian Paul, who lives nearby and likes philosophy; Abp. Doug, and Fr. Andrew get ready

Brandon coordinated with the Archbishop to organize a beautiful mass, with plenty of theology packed into the various prayers.

"May this water receive by the Holy Spirit the grace of your Only Begotten Son, so that human nature, created in your image and washed clean through the Sacrament of Baptism from all the squalor of the life of old, may be found worthy to rise to the life of newborn children through water and the Holy Spirit."

“May this water receive by the Holy Spirit the grace of your Only Begotten Son, so that human nature, created in your image and washed clean through the Sacrament of Baptism from all the squalor of the life of old, may be found worthy to rise to the life of newborn children through water and the Holy Spirit.”

As it was still within the Octave of Christmas, we sang carols in English and in Tok Pisin. The Archbishop took on the pastoral challenge Brandon threw down and preached on Jesus’ circumcision and His shocking humanity.

Listening to the sermon. Also, proof that Tabitha was there and extremely wiggly

Listening to the sermon. Also, proof that Tabitha was there and extremely wiggly

Brandon bends down to hold Tobiah's head over the baptismal fount while the Abp. pours water on him 3 times, "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

Brandon bends down to hold Tobiah’s head over the baptismal fount while the Abp. pours water on him 3 times, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

"God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life."

“God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.”

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Afterwards we gathered at our veranda (our official party space) and ate lots of chocolate cake from Jiwaka Mission Lodge (plus some homemade chocolate-peppermint fudge for the gluten-free Archbishop).

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James and Annie enjoy some cake while Fr. Paul talks to Leo, a local catechist, and Seminarian Paul

Our neighbor Elijah, Tobiah, and our babysitter Miriam

Our neighbor Elijah, Tobiah, and our babysitter Miriam

Steven, the CLTC librarian; the Abp.; Fr. Andrew, parish priest in the remote Jimi; Brandon getting drinks

Steven, the CLTC librarian; the Abp.; Fr. Andrew, parish priest in the remote Jimi; Brandon getting drinks

Despite having a CakeWrecks-worthy inscription, it was delicious.

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The inscription and the contact information should apparently not be written on the same piece of paper…

Welcome to the church, Tobiah! We love you.

In his white garments, the outward sign of his Christian diginity, which we pray he will bring unstained into the everlasting life of Heaven.

In his white garments, the outward sign of his Christian dignity, which we pray he will bring unstained into the everlasting life of Heaven.

A Promotion

Two weeks after my son was born (last full week of November), Good Shepherd began its third cohort for our fourth year BA in Religious Studies program.  Our seminary traditionally offers a three-year course of studies in theology, Bible, and philosophy (with some social science training) and our students receive an Advanced Diploma in Religious Studies.  Then they return to their dioceses for a year of pastoral work, which is serving at a parish under a priest-mentor.  After this, they go to the seminary in Port Moresby for three more years of study, graduating with either an Advanced Degree in Theology or a BA in Theology (if they write a thesis).

Back in 2013 (our first term here), Good Shepherd launched a new program.  We added a contextual theology research project to the pastoral years, as well as academic assignments to do on the history and organization of the student’s parish and diocese, on pastoral activities and catechetical programs, and their personal growth and challenges.  Contextual theology is using social science research methods to provide insight into a pastoral or theological questions.  For example, one student correlated family devotional practices and domestic violence.  Another wrote on traditional initiation rites and their incorporation or lack of incorporation into Catholic sacraments of initiation (baptism, eucharist, confirmation).  From the beginning, Rebecca and I have been involved in this program – helping the faculty understand how it is supposed to be run, arguing for high standards, and providing instruction for some of the assignments.  Students receive two weeks of instruction right after graduation, another two weeks at mid-year (June), and then present their research project at the end of the year.

We’ve had trouble implementing the program.  During the first year, eight students came for the first session, six came for the second, four came to present their projects, and two graduated.  Last year, only one student agreed to do the program, though he did it well.

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Newman Nangain of Wabag Diocese. Top of his class, 2015.

This year we expected five students to join the program, but only three came back to the campus.  Our Dean of Studies did some planning, but decided midway through the first week that he wanted to focus on his transition out of the seminary to a parish assignment (his contract was up).  The rector did not want to administer the program.  So that left me, the Bible teacher, and the Catechist (who has 20+ years experience, but only basic studies) as possibilities for running the program.  I was very hesitant to take the position, since I have not had a pastoral placement, nor am I formally trained in social science or theology, but if I did not take it, then the program would be cancelled.  So I took it up, called in the Archbishop (who has a doctorate in anthropology) to give some classroom instruction, and wrote up program specification documents.  It was a rocky start, but the students seem committed.   Now I may have to give myself a crash course on social science research methods so that I can prepare some reading and study materials for the students for early next year.

Here are the three:

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Daniel, Thomas, Paul

Daniel from Wabag Diocese – Daniel was my best student, academically speaking, last year.  He wrote a good paper on Hobbes’s Leviathan for me.  He is very determined to earn his BA.  He is interested in researching why young adults are not engaged in the Church.

Thomas from Mendi Diocese – Thomas was the class president last year.  He and I had a good reconciliation after the trouble at the beginning of the term.  He wants to write on parish renewal.

Paul is an ex-seminarian.  He is now a senior teacher at a local secondary school.  He is interested in best practices for teachers and what motivates good teachers.  Paul is our first ever layman to be a student.  It is my hope that next year we can open up the BA program to ex-seminarians in general and that Good Shepherd could even eventually be a Catholic liberal arts college and not just a seminary.  Paul is the first step for the realization of my dream – though I will have to write up new policies for how a layperson will carry out what is supposed to be the pastoral year.

Please pray for me: that I carry out these responsibilities well and that I still have time for the dissertation.

 

A nice treat at the end of November is the luncheon (roast pig and vegetables served in giant metal bowls) for the support staff at the seminary – the cooks, security guards, gardeners, maintenance men, ditch diggers, and pig feeders.  The seminary would quickly revert to bush without them!

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