Applications are being accepted for a pair of new certificate programs offered at The Franciscan School of Theology at the University of San Diego in California, according to Linh Hoang, OFM, who is the co-program director for one of the courses – Certificate in Asian & Pacific Islander (API) Catholic Ministry. While it is a 10-month online course, it will offer two in-person sessions in Oceanside.
“Asian and Pacific Islander communities, like many Catholic communities, are finding it difficult to maintain participation not only among younger generations, but faithful Catholics of all ages. We have to develop new ways of approaching this problem,” said Linh, a professor of religious studies at Siena College in Loudonville, New York.
“Creating this program has been a long time coming. There had been several attempts to create such a certificate program, but most of them did not find any traction. A program like this needs institutional support, as well as support from all different sectors of the Catholic Church. We are happy that there are so many scholars, leaders, and theologians who will share their time, faith, and knowledge within this program,” added Linh, whose involvement in Asian and Pacific Catholic ministry began in 2000 during his days as a graduate student.
The 10-month program, which begins next month and runs through June 2024, will look at immigration histories, cultural and religious practices, Church history and Catholic teachings, sacraments and traditions, racial justice, scripture and liturgy, catechesis and evangelization, ethics, and pastoral responses from the API perspective. Scholarships are available for tuition assistance.
The objective of the program, according to Linh, is to provide a culturally focused formation to pastoral leaders, both professional staff and lay volunteers, who serve the growing number of Asian and Pacific Island Catholic communities throughout the United States.
“The new program will not only address long-standing concerns, it will also situate the faith of API communities within the larger Catholic Church and global society. Anyone who is concerned about the future of the Church should consider taking this course. It welcomes everyone who has time and energy to invest in an exciting journey of faith and share in the joy of the Gospel with people of different cultures,” said Linh, who is co-directing the course with Eunice Park, MTS, MAMC.
The course will also unpack the practical guidance offered for those working on the ground with API communities in the document, Encountering Christ in Harmony: A Pastoral Response to Our Asian and Pacific Island Brothers and Sisters, by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The course hopes to provide enrollees with a more effective understanding of the needs of API Catholic communities and better equip them to implement culturally effective ministerial strategies.
The other new course is called Certificate in Hispanic Catholic Ministry “Haciendo Caminos” – which is designed to provide a culturally focused formation of Latin Catholics as pastoral leaders to serve the growing Hispanic population of San Diego County. The program begins in September and runs through May 2024. For more information about this course, and details on cost and registration, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.FST.edu.