Monday, May 11, 2015

MAM Journal: Can’t Wait to Get Started

Two weeks from now I begin study in the Master of Arts in Ministry program at the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization. Now doesn’t that sound grand!

A grand title for a fundamental mission: to educate lay Catholics to offer service from knowledgeable faith. That mission statement is my own. The official language is a bit more involved:

The Master of Arts in Ministry program at the Theological Institute of St. John’s Seminary is an accredited professional degree that promotes an integrated lay formation, assists participants in living out their baptismal dignity, and equips them for service in the public work of the Church.

However you phrase it, this program represents for me the realization of a long-time dream. I vividly remember dreaming this dream.

About twenty years ago, while returning from Disneyworld on a plane with my wife and children, I happened to sit beside a man who was a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, quite near my home. After an hour’s discussion with the man, I seriously entertained the idea of going back to school to become a Protestant minister.

At the time, I was not only not a Catholic. I was nothing. A lapsed Episcopalian. An “alternative spiritual searcher.” A none. But the idea was deeply appealing—reconnecting me with a serious sense of vocation in my youth—and I never forgot it.

Now, twenty years on, a Catholic today, and unqualified to be a priest (uh, still married), I have been guided by a spiritual director to look into the so-called MAM Program (Master of Arts in Ministry) at the Institute. And the day after Memorial Day I begin:

A three-credit core course on Basic Truths of the Catholic Faith and a two-credit elective on The “Terrible Beauty” of the Prophecy of Jeremiah. My formal status as a candidate for a master’s degree is pending the results of my application—which included a three-hour psychological evaluation (!)—but I am plunging ahead with these courses on faith.

This blog has been floundering a bit since I finished writing my memoir and postponed my walk to Montreal. These were the two core reasons I decided to restart the blog last November. Now, I have thought I might journal about my experiences at the MAM program in a way that might be both truthful and attractive.

Perhaps others will want to live their dream.

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