Through people's stories, I recognized the common human connection with Jesus's paschal mystery.
One of the Archdiocese of Boston's best-kept secrets is the Theological Institute of St. John's Seminary. Vatican II invited the people of God to be more fully engaged in the Church, and the Theological Institute has answered this invitation with a systematic curriculum for leaders in faith that matches the Church's need.
Along with the richly informative lectures, students engage in discussions and ongoing hands-on internship commitments. While the program is designed especially for the laity, I am one of the religious who has also benefited from the program. Studying at the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization offered me great learning experiences, but what I found most enriching was the sharing of each student's experience and ministry.
The Theological Institute offers two degrees: the Master of Arts in Ministry (MAM) and the Master of Theological Studies (MTS). I ventured into the MAM program after I had been a Pauline sister for nearly 25 years. I had entered the Daughters of St. Paul because I wanted to communicate at the service of Church. My joke with God was that I never considered myself a good communicator -- but I wanted to be one. The Daughters' mission of communicating God's word reaffirmed my vocational desire.
Later, as I served in the Pauline Book center in Dedham, I recognized my greatest satisfaction was accompanying the people who had come to us, seeking meaningful ways to celebrate or experience life's biggest moments: whether adapting to a difficult medical diagnosis, welcoming new life into a family, celebrating the sacraments and liturgical seasons, or grieving the loss of a loved one. Through people's stories, I recognized the common human connection with Jesus's paschal mystery.
One of my first courses in the MAM program was Bereavement Ministry. I had just accompanied my mother through her last days and the course work, with Father Terence Curley, affirmed what I had just experienced. The other adult learners in my class had their own histories of loss. Together, we learned from our shared stories. This way of learning fed my passion to stay connected with God's people. Equally helpful were the Scripture classes with Celia Sirois. They were tailored toward ministering to God's people and sparked lively classroom discussions.
Every course built on the richness of God's word and the sacraments and affirmed my faith and that of my classmates.
After graduation, I shared with my community leader my two desires: to actively re-engage in our beautiful Pauline communications mission, learning from and with the people of God; and to reach out to people in their parishes in ways that meet their pastor's desires. Many pastors and faith-formators have since graciously shared their time and ideas. The Holy Spirit seems to be allowing me to use what I've learned to help address people's anguish over the failure of Church's leadership to handle clergy sexual abuse in an honest, healing way. Using what I've learned through the MAM program, I envision supporting parishes with formation moments that help people to put words to their questions, struggles, hopes, beliefs, and prayers as we move toward the light of the truth and holiness in Christ.
Sister Regina Dick, FSP, is a 2018 MAM graduate and serves Boston Archdiocese parishes as a Daughter of St. Paul.
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