Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
February 21, 2005
WCR Letters to the Editor
Bible School one of formation
In response to theFeb. 7 letter to the editor entitled "Is JPII Bible School hurting the Church?"
We are a school of formation, and not a school of theology. Theology is the role of St. Paul's University and of Newman College. Throughout history, religious orders have had formation for their aspirants prior to their furthering their studies or entering religious life.
As Lay Catholics we have few places where we can just take time and just be with our God so as to know him better. Our Protestant brothers have had Bible schools for years and much of their leadership comes from their schools as their graduates pursue their studies and return to their congregations.
At our two campuses in Radway and Hinton, we seek to form our 95 students (mainly between the ages of 18 and 21) to give God a chance to work in their lives. They take a year or more of their lives to become more Christ-like.
They also learn to face the issues or perceptions from their past that hinder them from "having life to the full" (John 10:10).
They learn more about God and the Church. They deepen their appreciation of our Catholic family with its richness and imperfections. The students discover the Scriptures as being alive, relevant and as a story of God's people.
In the end, after one year of formation, our students are neither theologians nor social activists focused on "organized resistance." Rather, they strive to be ordinary Catholics who desire to be leaven in the society, to be Christian contributors in our communities. They desire to be better husbands, wives, religious or single people.
We hope that our graduates are filled with an appreciation of what God has given us - life, family, himself, and a beautiful world. We encourage all of our students to be good stewards of what they have received by our loving God.
We hope that they are reflections of our mission statement: "John Paul II Bible School invites adults who see Jesus as the light of the world to come and spend a year immersed in the Word of God, prayer and community life. Renewed in the Spirit, they go forth to touch a hurting world with the love of God our Father."
Our graduates are called to be instruments of healing and hope as they serve the Church in their different parishes.
John Paul II Bible School
Bible school pupils 'centred in prayer'
After reading Jeff Brassard's letter re: the John Paul II Bible School(WCR Letters, Feb. 7), I had to wonder whether he has ever had a son or daughter who attended the Bible school, whether he has attended any of the courses/prayer sessions offered by the Bible school, or whether he has even visited the Radway or Hinton campus?
Since I can answer "yes" to these, I feel an obligation to share the "good news" of the John Paul II Bible School.
The basis of the Bible school is not the charismatic renewal movement.
Catholic doctrine is taught from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and from the Holy Bible.
Yes, the Holy Spirit is invited to "fill the hearts of (his) faithful, to enkindle in them the fire of (his) love, and to renew the face of the earth."
Could not our dark world benefit from the light of the Holy Spirit that "we may have a right judgment in all things and evermore rejoice in his consolations"?
Mr. Brassard is concerned that the students are not able "to discern what is truly from God."
That is why they have the assistance of prayerful priests and teaching staff to help them develop sound judgment.
Instruction in Bible history, Scripture study, teachings of the Church, etc., is provided by well-known and experienced priests and teachers.
There is an opportunity for students not only to learn about their faith, but also to experience inner healing and personal growth through prayer journey counselling.
In 2004, the John Paul II Bible School celebrated its 20th anniversary.
If its "fruit" is not pleasing to the Lord, I think he would have put an end to this institution long ago instead of allowing it to grow and expand.
I may have missed something in Mr. Brassard's letter, but, if the John Paul II Bible School is sending out young (and not so young) people who are centred in prayer, committed to the sacramental life of the Church (especially Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist), loving their neighbour through acts of service, and constantly discerning the will of God in their lives, how can this be hurting the Church?
This is the Church!
Seminarian found his critical formation
Re: Article by Jeff Brassard "Is JP II Bible School hurting the Church?"(WCR Feb 7).
Firstly, I'm confused with Jeff Brassard's comments about JP II Bible School having "mythic status." The Bible school had very humble beginnings when it opened its doors in 1984. The very fact that it was named after our holy father John Paul II indicates the school's resolution to follow his guidance and the magisterium of the Church. If that's what Brassard means by "mythic status" then I applaud JP II Bible School.
I'm a seminarian with the Companions of the Cross in Ottawa. Before that I was a former student and staff member of John Paul II Bible School. I am indebted to the Bible school for the formation I received.
I entered the Bible school as a Protestant and during my first year as a student was received into the Church at Easter. Converts I've talked with desire solid Church teaching. JP II gave me just that. The basis of the school is not the "charismatic renewal movement" rather it is forming "disciples to be fully alive in Christ Jesus," their motto. Yes, the renewal is part of the spirituality at the Bible School just as it is one facet in the life of the Church.
During times of worship emotions can get involved as in any part of life; however, as a student I was taught not to let "feelings" or "emotions" get in the way of solidifying my Catholic faith. We were encouraged through Bible study and catechesis to learn our faith in order to share it with the world.
The fact the school breeds any exclusivity is not true. Yes, it is located in the small town of Radway. However, did not Jesus spend many nights away from his disciples for prayer and reflection? Did not St. Paul himself spend time away to learn his new found faith?
The students have ample time during their year in Radway to interact with the "world" by putting on retreats or attending social events in urban centres. Their formation allows them to bring their faith to those "in the world." In fact, at the end of the year the students evangelize all over western Canada as part of the outreach program.
John Paul II Bible School is now in its 21st year of operation. It has recently expanded to two new campuses (Hinton and St. Malo, Man.). If John Paul II Bible School has been hurting the Church then why has God allowed it to grow and be so fruitful? Praise God for JP II Bible School!
School guided daughter to her vocation
Re: "Is JPII Bible School hurting the Church?" by Jeff Brassard(WCR Letters, WCR, Feb. 7).
I'm forced to comment on what I see as a slight against a wonderful institution, presented without substantiation but containing errors immersed in innuendo.
The experience our family has had at JPII began much like everyone else's that we know. In our case, our oldest daughter attended for one year, and she returned to us with a deeper understanding of her Catholic faith, plus a zeal to do God's will in her life. She worked in the world for one year, and then returned to Radway to serve as the secretary of the Bible school for two years.
While the school has a charismatic flavour, that is not the basis for the learning that goes on there. While attending JPII, students come to know themselves and their God in ways that parents, friends, secular and Catholic schools just cannot match.
They learn discernment skills, and are put in touch with spiritual directors to help guide them. They learn how to pray along with skills for evangelizing, and then practise what they know. Towards the end of their year, in the context of extended outreach sessions, they learn to trust and rely on the Lord. "For without him, we can do nothing."
Mr. Brassard mentions twice that there is a shortfall in learning at JPII: "they don't possess a deep understanding of what it means to be Catholic," or they "lack the tools necessary for a true understanding of their faith." This is a one-year curriculum, not a master's program in theology or divinity.
He mentions that the remote location "breeds a level of exclusivity"; and states "In order to be truly effective, we must not separate those who are being formed in faith from the world."
I disagree. How can anyone be formed in the faith while drowning in the world? What do seminaries, monasteries and convents do? We know that having the school in Radway is a blessing for the students, as it helps them to avoid the distraction of the big lights, and yet promotes bonding among the student body and with the good folks living in the local area.
His question: "What limitations does this world view place on their relationship with Christ?" should perhaps be reworded to read, "How does their relationship with Christ influence the world they live in?" In our case, our daughter has now enrolled in a three-year degree course in midwifery in the Philippines, a program that supports a local mission.
We count our daughter, her classmates and hundreds of the alumni of JPII as being smart, charming well-spoken Catholics who are making a positive difference in the world we live in. I believe they understand their faith and, when necessary, are equipped to debate what they believe and why they believe it.
However, it's more important (in my view) for them to lead by example. St. Paul, for one, would agree with me.
P.S. Our youngest daughter plans to attend JPII in the fall of this year. We can't wait to see how the Lord will use her.
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