Thursday, August 9, 2018

[Updated:] Seeking your support as I prepare to embark upon a teaching mission at the JP2 Institute in India

Update, 8/23/18: As of today, I have met my fund-raising goal for my India teaching mission and have some funds left over, which I intend to use either for a second mission there or for a speaking tour of Native American reservations that is currently under discussion. Many thanks to all whose generosity makes my mission work possible.

Original post follows:

During my years of study earning my canonical licentiate and doctorate in sacred theology, I dreamed of using my knowledge to help Catholics in the developing world, particularly in Asia and Africa, where there is a great need for teachers to help strengthen the rapidly growing Church. That dream is now poised to become a reality this coming January, as I have accepted an invitation to team-teach a three-week intensive course at the Indian Session of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. I will be on-site at the Kerala campus from January 14 through February 4.

The invitation came through my friend Father Gregory Gresko, O.S.B., professor of theology at the Pontifical University Sant’Anselmo in Rome, and was confirmed by Institute Vice President Father Jacob Koippally. Father Gresko, who is originally from Virginia, teaches an intensive course at the Institute each January on a theological topic related to the Institute's mission of promoting studies in marriage and family. He invited me to team-teach with him a course on the indissolubility of marriage and I was delighted to accept.

Here is a letter from Father Koippally in which he confirms my invitation and provides details of my teaching mission.

Father Gresko and I will have about forty students in our class, including lay people, religious, deacons, and priests from throughout India and English-speaking Africa. Our course will be part of the Institute's canonical-licentiate program. (A canonical licentiate, which is issued under the authority of the Holy See, is the minimum degree required for teaching on the seminary level and is a necessary prerequisite for a canonical doctorate.) The language of the Institute is English.

Father Gresko (in white at center of back row) stands with his students at the Indian Session of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences in January 2017.
Fulfilling my dream of teaching in the developing world will require me to make certain sacrifices. For one thing, it will entail a significant amount of additional work, as I already teach full-time at Holy Apostles College and Seminary as assistant professor of dogmatic theology and chair of online theology degree programs. Thankfully, beginning this fall, my Holy Apostles teaching will be entirely online rather than on-campus, so I will have the freedom to travel. I will nonetheless continue to be responsible for teaching my online classes for Holy Apostles while in India.

In addition to the sacrifice of time and energy, there is another sacrifice involved, one for which I ask your help if you are able. The Church in the developing world is rich in faith but poor in material resources. For that reason, Western professors who do short-term teaching the Indian Session of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute typically pay their own overseas-travel expenses and do not receive a salary, although the Institute does cover their accommodations, food, and ground travel. What I am doing, then, is truly a teaching mission, a labor of love for my own professional growth and for the growth of the Church.

Today I purchased my round-trip airfare to Kerala, choosing the lowest business-class fare available; it cost $4,248. Normally I fly economy, and I thought about doing so for this trip. But given that the journey requires nineteen hours in the air, and given that I will have to dive into teaching soon after I land, it seemed prudent to choose a flight that would enable me to sleep well en route.

My other expenses for the mission will include a travel visa, acquire vaccinations, and purchase other items related to travel. I expect that, even with my food and accommodations covered while in India, my total expenses, including airfare, will amount to $5,500-6,000.

I have created a PayPal page for those who wish to provide financial support for my teaching mission in India. Here is the link if you would like to help:

My hope is that enough people will provide financial support to make this teaching mission viable for me so that I might return to the Institute every year. Who knows—perhaps, with the Lord's help and yours, I might also be able to teach intensive courses at other seminaries that would not normally be able to afford a visiting professor.

Whether or not you are able to make a monetary gift, I would be very grateful for you to support me with your prayers as I prepare to undertake my teaching mission. Everyone who supports my apostolate in any way is in my prayers every day. Thank you and God bless you.