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A reflection on my Master of Theological Studies experience

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My first exposure to the Master of Arts in Ministry (MAM) and Master of Theological Studies (MTS) of St. John's Seminary came through an unexpected "11th hour" enrollment in the inaugural "Catechetical Certificate" program in the fall of 2009. Ebullient at having just entered into the full communion of the Catholic Church over the summer, I wanted to expand my knowledge of the faith, and so prepare for a career of teaching theology in Catholic schools. Thus, I began to drink deeply from the overflowing chalice of our Catholic faith. Having begun with the certificate program, I then enrolled in my first course in the summer of 2010, at the characteristically gracious and warm invitation of Dr. Aldona Lingertat, the long-time director of the Institute and a member of the faculty. A few months later, Dr. Angela Franks, another long-time faculty member, strongly encouraged me to enroll in the newly-minted Master of Theological Studies program, of which she was the director at the time, and so I happily applied.

I cannot overstate the importance of the MAM/MTS for the religious, lay faithful, and deacons of our Archdiocese of Boston. The quality of graduate-level education is superb, the deeply prayerful and supportive community spirit is unflagging, and the joyful commitment to orthodoxy in doctrine and praxis is invigorating and upbuilding. Each course I took opened doors into vistas I never knew existed, and so I kept on coming back for more.

Studying the faith at a serious academic level became an increasing source of joy, and it deepened my prayer life. Increased knowledge of theology, the "Queen of the Sciences," according to St. John Henry Newman, continued to reveal to me the utter beauty of truth, of which Christ himself is the splendorous embodiment (John 14:6). Everything I learned has continued to prove its mettle by forging and shaping my life of discipleship in ways I could not have imagined. This, above all else, is the single most important impact that studying in the MTS program has had on my life.

As is clear, I utterly relished my studies in the MTS program, and I am so very grateful for the academic and professional opportunities opened to me by my studies. In particular, studying in the MTS program afforded me the opportunity to write a master's degree thesis, while the courses -- all of which were great, but some of which were especially remarkable -- convincingly demonstrated the unbreakable, living and life-giving bond between doctrine and pastoral care, between faith and life. Indeed, doctrine matters because faith is life. Only the truth of Christ saves, since it has the divine power to integrate our human disintegration, thus, healing our wounds and drawing us into the saving heart of our risen Lord.

Importantly, studying at the MTS program granted me the necessary credentials for teaching theology in a Catholic school, as well as working in parishes in religious education and, for the past seven years, as a pastoral associate, with various responsibilities. I cannot imagine participating in this apostolic labor without St. John's Seminary. The priests, faculty, and staff of MAM and MTS programs are godly and cherished individuals, whose tireless work bears evident fruit in the gratitude, friendship, professionalism, diligent work, and overall dedication of the student community. The commonly used phrase in this pandemic, "we're in this together," may be used quite aptly to describe the communion of people drawn together by the MAM and MTS programs at St. John's Seminary. We strive together in love for and service to Christ and his beloved bride, the Church.

DAVID E. ALLEN IS A 2015 GRADUATE OF ST. JOHN'S SEMINARY'S MASTER OF THEOLOGICAL STUDIES PROGRAM.



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