Religious Enrich Seton Catholic Theology Program

| January 20, 2012

By Richard A. Bucci

One of the cornerstones of Catholic education is a dynamic theology program. The intent of this program is to instill
students with an understanding of the fundamentals of our faith, a familiarity with sacred scripture, an appreciation for the unbroken apostolic tradition that dates back 2,000 years, and a commit­ment to social justice.

For generations, this mission was undertaken by priest and religious brothers and sisters who brought enthusiasm and passion to their instruction. They were poignant examples of self-sacrifice and a ministry of service to the Church and its people. Unfortunately, as their numbers have diminished in recent decades, so has their presence in Catholic school classrooms.

Understanding the reality of the current dynamic, Seton Catholic Central Jr./Sr. High School has explored creative ways to reintroduce a religious teaching presence. During the summer of 2011, the school began to reach out to local priests and sisters to ask if they would be available to teach one period, three days out of a six-day class cycle. Four priests and one sister accepted the challenge.

As a result, Seton Catholic Central has been able to craft a curriculum of theology electives for juniors and seniors. Rev. Thomas Ward, pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption and St. Paul’s is teaching Theology of the Body. Rev. Timothy Taugher, pastor of
St. Francis of Assisi, is teaching Catholic Social Justice. Rev. Christopher Ballard, parochial vicar at St. James, is teaching Christianity in the Marketplace, and Rev. Clarence Rumble, pastor of the Church of the Holy Family, will be teaching Liturgy of the Church. In addition, Sr. Brigid O’Mahony, MHJ, is teaching Healing and the Miracles of Jesus.

Each brings a unique insight to the curriculum and instruction. Their involvement enriches and diversifies the Theology Department, and most importantly, students, who often only see priests at weekend Mass, have an opportunity to interact with them on a more personal level. It is the hope that this interaction may sow seeds for future vocations.

Although teaching high school students in any setting provides unique challenges, the religious have integrated well into their role, as they work to diversify their instruction and provide students regular opportunities for dialogue and discussion. This approach to engagement has fostered a spirit of critical thinking and reflection.

Seton Catholic Central continues its outreach to other area priests, many of whom made the commitment to consider the possibility of teaching. The school is optimistic about an even greater participation, which will allow a broader portfolio of course offerings in the future. And, other religious who have been unable to commit to teaching have offered to participate in the life of the school in different ways, such as officiating Mass for the student body or teams and clubs, or acting as guest lecturers. n

Richard A. Bucci is the principal of Seton Catholic Central Jr./Sr. High School and serves as president of the Catholic Schools of Broome Co.


Category: Bold Initiatives

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