New theology and ministry certificate encourages Catholics to continue education

ORLANDO | A shared comradery of faith in Christ and continuing education flowed throughout evening at St. James Cathedral’s social hall Sept. 5. The congregation brought together more than 30 individuals with hopes to further their personal and professional lives by pursuing their advancement of their Christian faith.

The Loyola Institute for Ministry Extension Program (LIMEX), a fully accredited division of Loyola University founded in New Orleans, has been supplying Christian education—both in classrooms and online—for adults across six continents for nearly 40 years. The Diocese of Orlando was one of the first dioceses in the country to participate in the LIMEX program.

After an opening prayer blessed the group for a night dedicated in Jesus’ honor, the keynote speaker took the podium. Dr. Tom Ryan, director of Loyola’s Institute for Ministry, explained to those gathered why enrollment is so important to their own faith and the various paths they can take as a LIMEX member.

“Students in this program join a cloud of [Catholic] witnesses all over the United States and all over the world,” he said. “LIMEX prepares worshippers to go out into the world as faithful Catholics, to announce the Good News of God’s love and the joy that brings, the beauty that implies, and the community that builds. We all participate, in our own way, in the priesthood of Christ.”

Required classes, such as Jewish Roots and Christian Origins will explore ancient Hebrew Scripture and the teachings of Jesus. “The first six courses in our curriculum are core theology,” Dr. Ryan said. The Introduction to Practical Theology course will play a significant part in preparing enrolled students for professional careers in Christian ministry.

Dr. Ryan is proud how the LIMEX program handles its approach to religious pedagogy. “We call it practical theology. Some theologians keep theology hidden in their head,” he said, noting that LIMEX takes the opposite approach. “The best theologians throughout Church history have been practical theologians. Practical theology is about reading the Bible and the newspaper together, in terms of each other. What does this mean for the Church and the world?” The courses for the certificate merge Christian faith and social topics for students to reflect upon. “There will be lots of writing,” Dr. Ryan stated several times throughout the evening.

“Our program includes spiritual formation,” he said. “We want you to put the spiritual formation in conversation with your studies so prayer can illuminate and enhance your studies. LIMEX is rooted in your Baptism.” He encouraged the group to study Sts. Ignatius of Loyola and Thomas Aquinas.

“You will form a community [in Orlando], a learning community, a praying community,” he said of meeting up with other students in the program. “Each week you will engage about the fruits of your prayer and the fruits of your study. I think that is one of the most powerful things about this program. You will learn communication skills, how to deal with people.”

Along with the new certificate in theology and ministry, Loyola offers master degrees in business administration and criminal justice, and many more. Prices for master degree students enrolled in face-to-face classes in Orlando are $1,056. Online classes are $1,227. Depending on certain circumstances, some parishes may assist students with tuition.Those interested in taking part in the theology and ministry certificate must have a high school degree, ministry experience, and the ability to communicate on a post-secondary level. The cost to apply online is free.

For more information, interested parties can contact Dr. Tom Ryan by email at tfryan@loyola.edu or call 504-865-3727. To apply online, go to lim.loyno.edu/admissions. For in-person classes in the Diocese of Orlando, contact Tomas Evans, tevans@orlandodiocese.org

By Maurice Beaulieu of the Florida Catholic September 04, 2019