EDMONTON — "To continue working within the Church, you have to stay at the top of your game. You have to continually deepen your knowledge and your skills. Newman is very crucial to that," said Marieta Paul, a student at Newman Theological College.
Like many of the lay students at the new campus, she aims to gain the knowledge needed to expand her faith and pursue a meaningful career.
Paul said that through her college studies she is certainly seeing growth in her faith. While she has undergone other religious education, the classes at Newman are more than mere refresher courses.
On the contrary, she is progressing and aiming for her masters of theological studies that will improve her ability to continue her work at a deeper level, not only in her parish, but also in continuing care.
"I've worked in the Church for many years, and it's exciting to be studying again and to be reintegrating things I've experienced and that I learned years ago," said Paul.
While appreciative of the new campus, she questioned whether it makes a significant difference to her individual studies.
"Newman always had a very high level of academics. It's nice to be in this new campus, but so far I haven't seen that it's really affected my studies that much," said Paul.
This is Angela Veters' first year at the college, and she hopes to attain her master of divinity, with the intention of gaining employment as a chaplain, either at a prison or a hospital.
"It's nice because we will be able to have more of a spiritual life with the chapel here, and also a social life because there are more gathering places," said Veters.
Her first year is all theology classes - moral theology and pastoral theology. Later she will take Scripture courses and Church history.
"I think there's a great need in places other than the Church itself to spread the Word, like in prisons," said Veters. "Unfortunately there are not enough priests to accommodate the need, so that's why I feel it's important to become a chaplain."
Nonso Orajiaka, a lay student at Newman, grew up in a Catholic family where a strong emphasis was always put on religious education. To further his understanding of God and to learn more about making proper moral judgments, he said Newman is the place to be.
"This is the place where our faith is being questioned, being criticized, being analyzed, being put under scrutiny, so we are able to make sound judgments.
"We have courses ranging from Church history to study of man and anthropology to bioethics, how life is to be observed. There are a lot of branches to our theological studies," said Orajiaka.
His aim in his studies is to increase his ability to help others understand the Catholic faith. At the moment, he is considering entering a prison apostolate.
"My interest in understanding God will help others, be it in a prison, be it in a hospital, be it in a parish, any context that can help. Through chaplaincy, there are many avenues one can explore those opportunities," said Orajiaka.
Taking classes for five years, he said the new campus is amazing and conducive to academic learning.
"I have been involved in the transitions from the other site to the temporary site to this permanent site. I think this is the home," said Orajiaka. "Done in this age, in this era, considering the circumstances of what students should have, this is built to the tastes, to the mind of what today's students need."
Most of Eliza Holst's previous studies at Newman have been online, and now she is learning her way around the new campus.
"I am a substitute schoolteacher with Edmonton Catholic, so as a teacher my studies have really helped me explain the faith to the students. I am also a reservist in the military hoping to become a chaplain," said Holst.
To do so, she must attain her master of divinity and have two years experience.
Holst has been learning more about faith and ministry, and complimented the college's excellent lay formation program. She is confident that her college studies will help her work within her own parish, in the classroom and in a military setting.