Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 12, 1999
Newman makes room for teens
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Would Jesus ride a skateboard?
Ask Jack Kelly, he might know.
As the coordinator of the new Littlemore Program for High School Youth, Kelly hopes to attract and stimulate students with provocative questions never seen before in your average religion course textbook.
"The point of this program is to engage the future leaders of the Church into their faith," said Kelly, of the program housed at Newman Theological College. "We want to connect them to this. It goes beyond a high school religion class."
The Jesus and skateboard question is among the issues to be discussed in the upcoming year after the youth portion of the program kicks off in September. The program debuted in February, but was targeted solely for teachers.
It was initiated when "someone was waving money at us to start something for high school religious education," Kelly said. "We had to take advantage of that. There hasn't been money available for something like this before."
The $139,000 grant was provided by the American-based Lilly Foundation.
The program has six areas of focus - teacher in-service, student days at Newman College, a website, a student/youth institute, speakers bureau and a parish youth ministry.
Sessions include If it's Legal, is it Moral?, Christology for Teens, Bioethics, Social Justice and Hebrew Scripture for Teens.
The program is named for the house of retreat in Oxford, England, where 19th century Cardinal John Henry Newman, the college's namesake, lived for a year.
For students, the program is an extension of their mandatory religion class. It further fosters the faith and spirituality of youth who show a keen interest in ministry.
For teachers, the program provides support and resources that are not always readily available, such as in-services and expert speakers.
A religion teacher himself, Kelly said religion is one of the most difficult courses to teach.
"It's a subject area that involves a lot of controversy," Kelly said. "It's a subject area that wears you down when you teach it.
"In a lot of schools, religion teachers are kind of loners in themselves. It's a very different subject than the others. This is a way of linking (religion) teachers with each other."
Funding for the program also allots money for substitutes for teachers interested in attending the sessions.
"So there is no financial pressure on the schools if someone wants a day off to attend," Kelly said. "We've made it very accessible.
"And it's a province-wide program. It's available to anyone."
For more information on the program contact Kelly at 447-2993 or 1-800-386-7231.