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February 23, 2015

The Church could use many more theologically educated laypeople. Say that in the wrong company, and you may draw resistance. Faith is more about the heart than the head, some will respond. What good is all that knowledge if you cannot communicate it to the average person, others will ask. Learning theology can cause you to lose your faith, still others will say.

Such objections, even the last one, are true. Still, it is odd to hear faithful Catholics fret about others dedicating themselves to deepening their understanding of the Bible and the tradition of the Church. One's heart cannot be truly engaged in the Christian faith if one is not attached to the Word of God - reading it, praying with it, studying it and living it.

It's true that even in theology, the object of study - God, his word and his Church - can be held at a distance without it affecting one's life. But it is difficult. One would have to have a heart of stone to "study" Jesus' question to Peter - "Who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16.15) - and not ask it of oneself.

Most who study theology go in search of a deeper faith, not to run away from the voice of the Holy Spirit. Most will take that "head knowledge" and go forth and bear fruit for the life of the Church.

The Edmonton Archdiocese is blessed to be the home of Newman Theological College. Newman College strives mightily to adapt to the widely varied situations of Catholics by offering online delivery and programs that make theology accessible to those who have neither the time nor inclination to write heady term papers.

As society becomes increasingly secular, the need for theological education also grows. There can be no evangelization, new or old, when Catholics do not know their faith. Studying at Newman College is far from being the only way to learn that faith. However, the Church does need many more laypeople who have studied it in depth.

Very few dioceses have an institution to rival Newman College. As Catholic laity, we ought to make the best use of the gifts that institution offers.

Letter to the Editor – 03/09/15