Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 27, 2008
Newman grads beat game of life
Final class of original college building fought hard for their degrees
By RAMON GONZALEZ
Adrian Lawrence Olenick
Newman College officials allowed Giofu to return and complete her degree.
“They were so very, very understanding,” she recalled. “Two years after (the accident) I phoned them and said I want to complete my courses and they agreed. All I had to do was write the papers because I had attended the classes.”
It wasn’t easy. “It was very challenging,” Giofu recalled. “I really had to make time for it because last semester I had 250 students. So I didn’t have time to dedicate to my master’s because I was busy teaching and marking. It was too much.”
That’s why Giofu felt so relieved when she received her degree. With a big smile on her face she pumped her right arm in victory to cheers from the audience and her family.
“I feel like I have a life again because I don’t have to dedicate all my time to my master’s anymore,” she laughed. “At the same time I feel such a sense of accomplishment because it took me a long time to do this.”
Passing it on
Giofu, who helps the school chaplain organize and set up Masses, now plans to become more active in her Ascension Parish, and pass on her newly acquired knowledge to her students.
“This is so good because I can influence them in a positive way and have their faith enriched and maybe help them build a relationship with Jesus.”
Adrian Lawrence Olenick, a member of St. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Saskatoon, has similar plans. Armed with a bachelor of theology, Olenick plans to help develop catechetical resources for both children and young adults in the Saskatoon Eparchy.
“I think there is a need for young adults to learn more about our faith,” he said.
“I’m thinking especially of those who may not have had a lot of catechetical instruction (as children) and now are raising their families and they are not sure why we do certain things in our rite. How can they love something that they don’t know?
“That’s where I think we have to go with our catechesis — to teach our younger people why we do certain things in relationship with the Gospel so they can entrust it to their children.”
Olenick, a 52-year-old chartered accountant, has served in several leadership positions in his parish and for the past seven years he has volunteered as financial officer for the eparchy.
He was attending a lay formation program some seven years ago when he learned he could take additional courses online at Newman College. He wanted to learn more about the Scriptures and so he enrolled in the bachelor of theology program in 2001. He was one of seven who graduated from the program.
But as Olenick admits, it’s not easy to study — even online — when you have so much on the go.
In addition to his volunteer work for the eparchy, Olenick manages a large accounting firm in Saskatoon and has eight children. “It was a struggle,” he said. “Most of my work was done late at night when things had settled down and the kids were in bed and I could actually have some quiet time.”
Fortunately, his wife Vera and his business partners were supportive, allowing him time to complete school-related projects.
During the third year, Olenick flew into Edmonton once a week for a full semester to take some required master-level classes.
“I was able to take three classes — one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one the next morning (before flying back to Saskatoon),” he recalled.
“I would stay overnight with a nephew who lives in St. Albert. It was necessary because some of these were master’s level classes and I needed access to the library to do some research that I needed for the papers.”
Sacrifices aside, Olenick is happy he completed his degree.
“It feels great to have achieved something at this stage in life that I wanted to achieve,” he said. “I’m very appreciative to Newman for the multitude of delivery mechanisms they have for the program.”
What did Olenick learn? “That faith development is going to be a lifetime process,” he said with a smile.
“We are called to live a Christian life everyday, every minute of every day.”
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