EDMONTON - As director of the religious education program at Newman Theological College for the past four years, it has been a privilege and honour to work with the many dedicated and committed Catholic teachers who have graced the doors and classrooms of our building.
These teachers are at all stages of their lives - most working full time in their classrooms and schools, some still raising young families, some caring for their elderly parents, some serving as administrators and some nearing retirement. All these teachers are actively engaged in their homes, schools and parishes.
Through the generous bursaries offered by Edmonton Catholic Schools and the financial support other teachers receive from their respective school districts, teachers attend Newman together on six Fridays of every term.
Like the experience of the early disciples on the road to Emmaus, the teachers arrive at the college, join other teachers on the journey, and, through their studies and dialogue with the content, come to recognize Jesus more clearly.
For the teachers, the master of religious education is more than a degree. The program serves to prepare them for the world as religious educators and Catholic school administrators.
From their studies, the teachers gain an understanding of the major areas of Catholic theology; interact with the principles of religious education and their application in the context of Catholic schools, become familiar with the issues facing school administrators in a Catholic context, are equipped to face the issues in a theologically informed manner, and place into practice the principles learned in their course work by participating in relevant supervised field experiences.
Through both the devotion and perseverance of my predecessors, and the concentrated efforts of the faculty and staff of Newman, hundreds of Catholic teachers have graduated from our religious education programs since the 1970s.
This year, 20 teachers graduated with their graduate diplomas in religious education in Saskatoon and 25 with their master in religious education in Edmonton. This is an important milestone for the teachers as well as being a tribute to the many teachers who came before and the many who will follow in the years to come.
For the sacrifices made by the teachers, each and every day, to study at Newman and for the sacrifices made by their school districts to support them, we thank you.
(Sandra Talarico is director of religious education at Newman Theological College.)