Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 31, 2002
Learn liturgy in the summer
Over 100 Catholics come to annual Summer School of Liturgical Studies
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
If you want to upgrade your liturgical and pastoral skills but lack the time, you can attend Newman Theological College's Summer School of Liturgical Studies during your summer holidays. An average of 120 knowledge-hungry Catholics per summer, most of them lay parish volunteers, have been attending the summer program since it was started in 1991.
This year the school runs from July 7 to July 31. Its purpose, as explained by Dan Kingdon, director for the past four years, is to help Western Canadian Catholics acquire leadership skills and a degree of liturgical competence. "It provides opportunities for personal and spiritual growth and developing skills for parish ministry."
It offers 13 practical courses in areas such as Eucharist, liturgical prayer, liturgies with children and liturgical music and singing. The school, sponsored by Newman and the Edmonton Archdiocese, also offers a general introduction to Christian Initiation of Adults and a practicum in ministry.
"Not only do we talk about the liturgy but we also give people an opportunity to practise and experience the ministries and then to celebrate," Kingdon said.
Some nine professors from across Canada and a couple from the United States teach at the summer school. They include Ukrainian Bishop Lawrence Huculak, who teaches Byzantine liturgy, and Prince George Bishop Gerry Wiesner, who teaches the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
"I think the students look forward to coming each year," noted Kingdon, who teaches religious education at Newman. "There is a real core of students that stay with us for up to three years. Others stay for four weeks and some stay for just two weeks.
"They all seem to look forward to the experience, which is, first of all, a community-building experience and then it is a faith-sharing experience as well. They come to see it as a time of personal reflection, as a kind of active retreat where they are given information that helps them understand the liturgy better."
Students also celebrate the liturgy each day and then take time to integrate all that they have learned into their own personalities, Kingdon explained.
Each summer the school has use of the facilities at St. Joseph Seminary, which means it can offer accommodation for up to 50 students on campus. "And that's a different dynamic because (if you live on campus) you are sharing meals and you are seeing each other," Kingdon said.
"You get to know people, you build relationships and it becomes a support system."
- Sr. Louise Lohman
Students can take a maximum of four courses each summer at a cost of $150 per course. Those who want to live on campus must pay an additional $660, which includes breakfast. About 80 per cent of the students attend the summer school because their pastors have encouraged them and some receive financial support from their parishes. Women outnumber men three to one at the school.
Louise Lohman, a member of the Sisters of Charity of St. Louis, attended the summer school in 1997 and she is happy she did. "Once I got there I got hooked," she said. "The atmosphere of the college is very personable and welcoming. You get to know people, you build relationships and it becomes a support system.
"When you have a bunch of people who study together, who pray together and eat together, you build community."
Lohman said studying liturgy in the summer led to her becoming interested in theology. Now she is working on a bachelor of theology at Newman. "The more you learn about God the more you realize how much you don't know about God," she said. "I think the liturgical studies give you a taste of what the opportunities are, of what is out there, of all there is to learn."
And Lohman said all she learned at the summer school has been valuable in her current job as pastoral assistant for the parishes of Sacred Heart Parish in Canmore and St. Mary's in Banff. "So much of what you learn in the (Summer) School in Liturgical Studies is applicable to what you do as pastoral assistant. It's a real asset."
To get a certificate in liturgical studies from the summer school, a student has to complete 12 courses. Those who complete the courses get 12 credits toward a bachelor of theology.