Last year, I took over Good Shepherd’s BA in Religious Studies Program during the first residential. If I had not taken it over, the program would have died. I think the plan of the program is great. We give our recently graduated students intensive training in pastoral work and in social research methods, they go and do pastoral work for a year and conduct a research project in which they use social research methods to bring clarity to a pastoral issue facing the PNG Church, such as why youth are leaving the Catholic Church, the effect polygamy has on Catholic families, whether there is a correlation between family prayer and reduced domestic violence. Unfortunately, due to the seminary’s limited resources, the program’s implementation has always been difficult.
For our 2017 cohort, I had complete control. I created the application forms and determined the tuition costs. I, the Rector, and the Dean of Studies decided who would be accepted. I made the schedule for the first residential period (Nov 14 – Dec 2), and I recruited the lecturers for the different courses. And since our secretary quit, I also photocopied the readings for the different courses and Rebecca bound them! We accepted seven men, the program’s largest cohort yet:
Going across from upper left to lower right:
Godwin: A layman and teacher from Kerema who is interested in the impact that religious education classes have on the faith life of primary students.
Solomon: A layman from Kundiawa who is interested in the effect polygamy has on a Catholic family’s ability to practice the faith.
Mathias: A layman and teacher from Jiwaka who is interested in the active participation of the laity in the liturgy.
Michael: A layman from Kundiawa who is interested in why the youth/young adults are leaving the Catholic Church.
Anton: A layman and prison chaplain from Goroka now working in Port Moresby who is interested in ecumenism in prison ministry.
Gabriel: A seminarian from Kundiawa who is interested in why seminarians leave the formation program.
Steven: A seminarian from Mendi who is interested in why Catholics join other denominations.
Please pray for our students and for me as I try to guide them to success!
I am very happy with the number of laymen who are in this year’s cohort. All of them are ex-seminarians. The BA program gives them a chance to finish their education and gain good skills to serve their church and community. I hope that the successful inclusion of laymen in the BA program could open the way for the seminary to generally accept lay students.