Reflections on my Experience with the Online Program of the Byzantine Catholic Seminary
As I matured in my relationship with the Lord as a Roman Catholic and, since November 10, 1966, as a member of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, I desired to learn as much as possible about the Byzantine Catholic spirituality, theology and liturgy in order to discern my role in service to the Church.
I have a reasonable background in catechetical studies through the Roman Catholic diocese of Lafayette, Indiana. I was in one of the first groups to complete the Ecclesial Lay Ministry Program and advanced catechetical certification offered by the diocese.
St. Athanasius Byzantine Catholic Church in Indianapolis was the closest Eastern Catholic Church to my home in Muncie, IN. I attended on a regular basis and became involved as an Acolyte. My Pastor, Fr. Sid Sidor of blessed memory, suggested that I begin a series of studies in Eastern Catholicism, perhaps leading to a more advanced role in liturgical service. There was a distance learning program offered at Manor College but that was discontinued. I found out about the online BCS program in early 2011 through the Eparchy of Parma and enrolled in my first course, Patristic Reading. I continued to take courses as they were offered and tried to enroll in those that touched on the areas of Spirituality, Church History, Scripture, Icons, Dogmatic Theology and Chanting. I completed my eighth course, Dogmatic Theology: The First Ecumenical Council in the Spring Semester this year.
The information that I learned through the online program exceeded my expectations. I have been called upon to give talks to various Roman Catholic groups to explain various aspects of Eastern Catholicism during the time I was enrolled in the program. I talked to Confirmation groups, Directors of Religious Education, adult education groups and others in the Dioceses of Lafayette and Indianapolis. I recently met with the Office for Catechesis of the Lafayette Diocese and may develop workshops or other informational sessions for members of the diocese.
I would recommend the BCS Online Program for anyone who wishes to learn more about the Byzantine Catholic Church’s theology, spirituality and liturgy. The tuition is very reasonable and the assignments are challenging but reasonable. One unexpected benefit was that I established relationships with students from all over the world, including those from Indonesia and Australia. Many of them are social media contacts. One is never too old (I am 69) to learn, especially about one’s relationship with God in His Church.