SHU-sponsored Religious Education Program
Gives Adults a Leg Up in Church Work Search
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Sacred Heart University)
Fairfield, CT – If you’re an adult interested in working in the Catholic church as a parish-based director of religious education, youth minister or like position, there’s a new program co-sponsored by Sacred Heart University and the Diocese of Bridgeport that can help you obtain the necessary background and credentials.
SHARE (Sacred Heart Adult Religious Education), a college-level Continuing Ed program, was initiated by the Diocese and embraced by SHU. It was modeled on EPS (Education Parish Service), which started 33 years ago at Trinity College in Washington, D.C. as a way to bring the Catholic faith to adults in that area. It came to the Diocese of Bridgeport 15 years ago, but was discontinued this past summer due to financial reasons. An EPS coordinator approached the Diocese about continuing it in some form, which led to SHARE.
The program is one of four ministries, or entities, that Gina Donnarummo, Director of Adult Formation for the Diocese, administers. She works with adults becoming Catholics, overseeing a formal process called RCIA (Rite of Christian initiation of Adults), collaborating with coordinators at each of the 87 parishes in the Diocese in Fairfield County. The RCIA process consists of a period of inquiry, work with a support team, purification coinciding with Lent, and Mystagogy, wherein candidates are baptized, receive First Communion and confirmed.
A recent SHU graduate who earned a Masters Degree in Religious Studies and holds a B.A. in Social Work from St. Joseph College, Donnarummo explained that the SHARE program covers four disciplines: scripture, church history, theology and pastoral theology. There are currently four classes in place, two of which – Christology and the Church as a Sacrament – began in mid-September and two – Synoptic Gospels and Creed – begin November 1.
“The hope for the spring is to offer six to eight classes – six core and two electives,” Donnarummo said. “Two of the four disciplines – theology and scripture – have thus far been breached. We will address church history in the spring and pastoral theology in Fall 2012.”
Instructors bring solid credentials to the table. Christology is taught by Father Joseph Koterski, a Jesuit priest from Fordham University. Church as a Sacrament is led by Sr. Jeanmarie Gribaudo, a Dominican Sister completing her doctorate in Sacred Theology at Boston College. Guiding the Synoptic Gospels class is Dr. Thomas Hicks, a professor emeritus at SHU who holds a Ph.D. from St. John’s University. Finally, Creed is taught by Dr. Joan Kelly, who received her doctorate from the Graduate Theological Foundation at Notre Dame.
Put simply, SHARE is a four-year certificate program to help Catholics understand their faith and empower them to put it into action. The pastoral certificate is received after two years of the Foundational courses and two years of the Advanced courses are completed. There are 20 classes in all, which are held at St. Philip Parish, One Father Conlon Place, Norwalk, on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 7pm to 9pm. The certificate is awarded by the Diocese and SHU.