Michael Chen

Seeking with hopes of finding

By  Michael Chen, Youth Speak News
  • June 12, 2014

It’s June and I’m headed towards my final year in university. Rather than simply enjoying my summer like my peers, I’m looking at my options. 

I will be graduating from a secular university, but being part of campus ministry made me realize that there is so much about the Catholic Church that I still need to learn. And so I am considering studying theology because it can give me a strong foundation in Christian education that is lacking in university. 

Theology literally means “God” (theos) and the “word” or “reason” (logos). So theology is the study of God, religious belief and how the two can affect the world. A theology program can include courses about the Old Testament, New Testament, Church history, Christology (studying Christ as a person, nature and His role), the role of God, sin and grace, sacraments, creation, Canon Law, Christian ethics, Latin, Greek or Hebrew and spiritual or pastoral care. What appeals to me about learning theology is that it is an opportunity to understand the early Church and give me a strong foundation in the faith. Who knows, I might even become a famous theologian like Henri Nouwen or St. Augustine. 

More importantly, as a layperson, I can learn more about the faith to help others in ministry or in a parish. A master’s degree in divinity can encourage me to understand Scripture in the original meanings, but interpret them in a modern-day context, communicate the Gospel to others and work with others in sympathy. For people who study for a master’s in divinity or theology, they may go on to work as school principals, with youth, in parish ministry, in social work or in health care. For Catholic leaders who work in these fields, we hope to see that they have a solid understanding of Catholic doctrine, theology and catechism. After all, these are the people who serve God by teaching, counsel and leadership. 

Applying for and completing a theological degree won’t be a walk in the park. To attend a theology program it means I need to have a bachelor’s degree and have the necessary prerequisite courses in philosophy. So I would need to do the philosophy and theological writing courses after my bachelor’s degree in order to apply. To complete a theology program, I must finish the prescribed courses, read required texts, write a thesis and do research or complete work in the field of pastoral care. 

But considering a theology program is an opportunity to learn additional catechism and create solutions to solve real life problems. While it’s still early to make a final decision on entering a theological degree program, I might find myself at different open houses this fall learning about my options. 

(Chen, 21, is entering year four as a journalism student at Ryerson University in Toronto.) 

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