Personal update: back to school!

With the recent publication of the Pastoral Appointments for 2015, it was made official that come mid-July I will be going back to school. Since the news has been out, people have asked me questions about what comes next and how I am approaching this change in my life. Here's some answers.

What will I study? Where? For how long?
Before ordination priests are required to study philosophy and theology. After we obtain a general degree in theology, it is possible to study deeper in a specific area. I will be pursuing further studies in Sacred Scripture. Specifically, I work towards completing a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture. A licentiate is the second of three degrees offered by Pontifical Universities: baccalaureate, licentiate and doctorate.
Pontifical Biblical Institute
I will study at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (aka Biblicum) in Rome. The Biblicum was founded by Pope St. Pius X in 1904 as a center for advanced studies in Scripture. From the start, the Biblicum has been run by the Jesuits. Interestingly, the current head of the school, Fr. Michael Kolarcik SJ, was born in New Westminster, Canada.

If all goes well, it will take me three years to complete my studies at the Biblicum. The program will require a lot of language studies, something I find more than a little intimidating. Before the program begins in October I will go to Germany for a couple months to study German. During my first year at the Biblicum I will study ancient Greek and Hebrew. In the following two years I will take courses in biblical history, geography, archaeology and methods of interpretation. While studying in Rome, I will live at the Canadian Pontifical College (in Rome everything is "Pontifical"!). Since 1888 this has been a residence for Canadian priests in Rome. It is run by the Sulpician religious community.
Pontifical Canadian College
How do I feel about the change?
As my younger friends would say, I have many “feels” about it! On the one hand I feel sad leaving behind my family and the friends I made in the three parishes I served at in the past few years: St. Matthew, St. Joseph the Worker and St. Paul. I really love working in a parish, particularly because I have the chance to interact with so many great people. I enjoy serving them and I appreciate the kindness and support they show me. Leaving this behind will be difficult. I also feel some anxiety. I am unsure about how everything will work out, particularly because my area of studies will be quite challenging for me. On the other hand, I am very excited to go back to school. I am a big nerd so studying is something I really enjoy. I love the idea of studying Scripture. St. Jerome famously said “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”. By reducing my ignorance of Scripture, I hope to get to know Jesus better! The idea of being in Rome again makes me happy. Previously I lived there for three years while I studied theology and I love the city. I am very grateful to Archbishop Miller for this opportunity and I intend work hard and make the most of it. It will be a great chance for me to grow personally and I hope that these studies will help me to better serve the Archdiocese of Vancouver in the future. So many feels!

When I leave to study in July, the nature of this blog will probably change. Since I will no longer be working in a parish, I will not be regularly posting homilies. Instead, I hope to write some reflections about my experiences studying Scripture and living in Rome. Thank you all for your support and prayers during this time of transition for me!