Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 24, 2005
Newman grads heard God's call
Students sacrificed laboured to complete their studies
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Paul and Barbara Croteau were all smiles Oct. 15. That's the day they graduated with a bachelor of theology from Newman Theological College.
They gave each other the high-five as they walked to the stage to receive their degrees during the convocation ceremony at the college's chapel. The crowd cheered and applauded their gesture.
It was a long but joyous trek for the Croteaus, who spent the last three years studying theology to better serve God and his people. They sold their business and struggled to make ends meet.
But what they gave up does not compare with what they gained by studying at Newman, Barbara said. Along with their education, they gained the support of faculty and students who they now see as part of their family.
Three years ago the Croteaus were happily doing their part as baptized Catholics at Edmonton's Good Shepherd Parish. Paul was actively involved in the Knights of Columbus and did baptismal preparation together with Barbara, who was also part of the parish's funeral ministry.
God came knocking
Suddenly God came knocking on their door, demanding a bit more from them. "We felt called; we discerned that God wanted us to work for him in service so we knew we had to do something about it," recalled Paul in an interview.
What they had in enthusiasm and disposition, they lacked in theological knowledge.
"We knew that we didn't have the knowledge, the formation to do what the Lord was asking," said Paul. "We needed formation to better serve other people," added his wife.
What to do? They made the decision to come to Newman and in order to finance their studies, they sold their outdoor sign company, which was doing well.
"This is something we were called to do and we were able to do it with the sale of the company," noted Paul. They also ended up working part-time here and there to make ends meet. But then in May, Paul was hired as recruitment officer for Newman College and the couple's financial situation improved.
"I got my dream job now because I'm the director of recruitment here at the college," he said proudly. "So I'm able to use my business background and my theology background to help other students come here."
As for Barbara, she continues to take courses towards a master of divinity, which she needs to get her dream job as a hospital chaplain.
The Croteaus, who have a daughter and one grandchild, were among nine who graduated from the three-year bachelor of theology program and 56 who received diplomas and degrees at the convocation.
Convocation speaker Oblate Father Ronald Rolheiser, a former Newman student and professor and a renowned writer and lecturer, urged the graduates to avoid ideology and embrace the Gospel.
"Don't be a liberal and don't be a conservative: be a woman or a man of faith," he said.
"People resist ideology; they don't resist the Gospel. Be post-ideological. Jesus was neither liberal or a conservative; Jesus was fully compassionate."
Former parish secretary
Hope Sarah Winfield, a former parish secretary and president of the Catholic Women's League at the now-closed Immaculate Heart Parish, just completed four years of theological formation at Newman and is now ready to take on the world.
The holder of a science degree from The King's University College, Winfield, 26, came to Newman in 2001 for "more theological formation and spiritual development" and ended up earning a master of divinity degree. She worked all the way through to finance her studies and now she is graduating without a debt.
"This was totally worthwhile," the recently married Winfield said of her time at Newman.
"This gives you a very good foundation for any type of ministry you want to pursue. Definitely it is worthwhile learning your faith no matter what walk of life you are in; this is the perfect place to do it."
Winfield's goal is to be a military chaplain, something she didn't know when she first enrolled at Newman. That came into focus after her second year when she joined the military reserve.
Last year, she did a year of service as a student chaplain with the military in Wainwright and came closer to her goal. After two more years of training in the civilian parishes of Wainwright and Vermilion, where she is presently pastoral assistant, Winfield will be fully qualified to be a military chaplain.