Restarting the MA in Pastoral Ministry

Pastoral Ministry

Anna Maria College is enriching its theology offerings in response to particular needs in the Worcester Diocese and a highly educated world. 

The Paxton college is restarting its master’s degree in pastoral ministry, starting two certificate programs as part of this graduate program, and adding a bachelor’s degree in theology, according to Marc Tumeinski, director of the graduate program in theology. Currently the college offers a bachelor’s degree in Catholic studies. 

Candidates for the permanent diaconate, who have been taking courses online, are to again earn their master’s degree at Anna Maria. People serving in parishes and Catholic schools also can earn their master’s in pastoral ministry there, with a concentration on religious education, said Professor Tumeinski. Tuition discounts are available through arrangements with the diocese and the college. 

“I really wanted to find ways that the college could support the diocese,” said Professor Tumeinski, who also coordinates the theology department’s certificate program  and undergraduate degree program. 

“The bishop has been very supportive. … We felt well supported throughout the college and throughout the diocese,” he said. 

The college already has a bachelor’s in Catholic studies, but the bachelor’s in theology is a deeper dive into Scripture, tradition and Church teaching and can prepare students who want to go on for graduate studies, Professor Tumeinski said. 

He said he saw a need to restart the graduate program, because the college had previously offered it and wants to be open to expressed needs of the diocese. 

Deacon William A. Bilow Jr., director of the diaconate office, asked about restarting the master’s degree for the deacon candidates, and other people asked about having a bachelor’s in theology and programs focused on teaching and spiritual accompaniment. Looking at Anna Maria’s faculty, as well as its education and psychology programs, and the theology department, Professor Tumeinski realized the college could help in these areas. 
“We’re trying to form the whole person.” “That’s part of the mission of the college. … We see theology … as contributing to the development of the whole person,” said Professor Tumeinski, who got his doctorate in theology from the Maryvale Institute, through Liverpool Hope University, in Birmingham, United Kingdom. It was there that Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman lived and provided formation for Catholics.   

“That was definitely part of the spirit of Maryvale. Newman was … really trying to reach all people, not just the wealthy and powerful,” Professor Tumeinski said. 

A charism of Anna Maria’s founders, the Sisters of St. Anne, is to educate people who would not otherwise have access to education, he said. And today, a fair number of the students are the first in their family to attend college, he said. 

Speaking about restarting the master’s in pastoral ministry, Professor Tumeinski said, “It seemed like, in today’s world … it’s necessary for the Church. We live in a highly educated world.… It’s part of the richness of the Catholic intellectual tradition.… It’s part of apologetics and evangelization. If we’re going to be handing on the faith” to children and adults, those teaching it need a deep understanding of the faith. 

Anna Maria previously worked with the diocese in offering the master’s in pastoral ministry. After the college stopped the program, deacon candidates got their master’s in theology, with a concentration in advanced diaconal studies, through online courses from St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine, said Deacon Bilow. He earned his master’s in pastoral ministry for the diaconate from Anna Maria in 2015. 

Asked why he wanted the deacon candidates to return to Anna Maria for study, Deacon Bilow spoke of a “sense of community in formation, which will carry on beyond ordination.” Having them attend class together instead of doing courses online will round out their spiritual formation, as they can pray and reflect together, he said. 
The deacon class of 2023 will begin at Anna Maria next fall and not take courses from St. Joseph’s. 

The first two courses are to be taught in 2019 by diocesan priests. Canon law is to be taught by Father Juan D. Echavarría from Jan. 3-March 21, and ecclesiology is to be taught by Father Nicholas Desimone from March 28-June 20. 

Professor Tumeinski will teach foundational theology next fall, and Old Testament and New Testament courses will be offered in the spring of 2020. 

The college gives a tuition discount for courses and the diaconate office and deacon candidate share the rest of the cost, Deacon Bilow said. He said details still need to be finalized. 

Other people serving in parishes or Catholic schools in the diocese can also receive a tuition discount from Anna Maria for the master’s level courses, Professor Tumeinski explained. 

Elizabeth A. Marcil, director of the diocesan Office of Religious Education, said people preparing for certification through her office, and other pastoral ministers, can also contact her office to apply for a partial scholarship. These scholarships are funded through a Forward in Faith endowment collected during the 1999 capital campaign.

Written by Tanya Connor from the Catholic Free Press
https://www.catholicfreepress.org/news/amc-adding-theology-degree-and-expanding-grad-program

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