Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 3, 2000
A glorious summer at school
Some students find holiday studies the best way to go
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Summer is synonymous with vacations, with getting away from the daily grind of work or school and doing something different, more relaxing.
But summer vacations don't necessarily have the same meaning for everyone. While some spend them basking in the sun or camping in the mountains, others use the time off to improve themselves professionally and even to get a degree.
Since 1995, Kyle Porter, a teacher at St. Timothy Catholic School, has spent a good portion of his summer holidays working toward a master's degree in religious education at Newman Theological College. He is currently writing his thesis and expects to graduate in June.
Similarly, Caroline Doetzel, a retired school teacher from Provost, has spent the last seven summers taking all types of summer courses at Newman. She is currently working towards a diploma in theological studies.
Porter, a St. Albert resident, decided to pursue a master's in religious education to get a more solid background and foundation in his faith. It will help him in his work at the school as well as in his service to the Church. In his St. Albert Parish, Porter helps with the Sunday liturgies with children and in the marriage preparation program.
In 1995, he took a year off school and completed a big portion of the program.
The remaining six courses he decided to take in the summer because that's when he has time to concentrate on his studies. As a teacher, he doesn't mind spending half of his summers in school. He's been taking one course each summer.
Taking night courses would have been "harder" and would have kept him away from his wife and four children.
"It's convenient for a teacher to study in the summer and not have to worry about juggling your full time job and studies."
The good thing about taking summer courses is that the courses are condensed in a three-week span rather than the regular four-month span.
"I'm very happy with this arrangement," he says. "I don't know how I could have done it otherwise."
Drawbacks of studying during the summer include the limited number of courses offered at the graduate level, a shortened summer holiday and the fact "you don't have as many people at the college and therefore you don't have the social events (that regular day students enjoy)," Porter notes.
Doetzel, who has taken many distance-education courses at American and Canadian universities, enrolled in Newman's Summer School in Liturgical Studies in 1991 and graduated with a certificate in liturgical studies in 1994.
A Newman professor suggested she apply those courses, including the distance-education ones, toward a diploma in theological studies and she did.
She has been taking one or two courses toward the program each summer for the past seven years and expects to graduate in about two years. She spends most of July at Newman, which offers room and board for out-of-town students.
"I love the atmosphere at Newman," she says. "I love the way the Eucharist is celebrated."
Doetzel estimates she has completed 34 courses, including many distance-education courses. She studies for personal growth and because she wants to serve the Church better. She is active in her parish and in the Catholic Women's League and is finishing a second term on the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.
A mother of five grown children and grandmother of eight, Doetzel clearly enjoys summer school. But she finds it "really hard" to drive 300 km to Edmonton and leave her husband alone for up to a month every summer.
Despite the hardships, she is determined to complete her program. And after that, she will continue to study.
Newman has been offering summer courses for the past 25 years and its Summer School in Liturgical Studies for the past 10. From May 8 to June 15 it offers one course at the bachelor of theology level and another at the master of divinity level.
In July, it will offer two undergraduate courses - sexuality and Christian marriage, and the sacraments of initiation - that can be applied towards a diploma in theological studies or a bachelor of theology.
During the same period, Newman offers two graduate courses - Christology and women of the Bible - which can be applied towards a master of divinity, a master of theological studies, a graduate diploma in religious education or a master of theology.
The Summer School in Liturgical Studies, July 3 to July 28, offers four core courses and nine elective courses ranging from introduction to liturgy to preaching.
The average size for summer courses in 1999 at Newman was 18 with one third of all students pursuing a degree or diploma. Women outnumber men two to one, noted summer school director Dr. Dan Kingdon.