Sacred Heart Major Seminary’s (SHMS) initial open online course was such a tremendous success, SHMS is offering another one. The new course, “Mission of the Laity,” is “designed for the everyday Catholic seeking to encounter more fully the radiating beauty of the mission of the laity.”
Over 3,200 people participated in SHMS’ initial free course, “Beauty of Belief,” which was a six-week long course on the beauty of the Catholicism. The “Mission of the Laity” course will run for just three weeks, July 8 through July 28. It will consist of a single 20-25 minute video lecture each week followed by a self-test. But as the course description notes, “participants who are interested in completing all recommended readings and course tasks can expect to spend around 2-3 hours/week on the course. However, levels of participation and engagement are up to the discretion of the individual.”
The recommended readings and course tasks are not mandatory. Those who watch the videos and complete the self-tests will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course.
An introductory module will be available to those who sign up for the course, starting on June 17. The three video lectures are:
- The Priestly Mission – presented by Dr. Matthew Gerlach
- The Prophetic Mission – presented by Dr. John Gresham
- The Royal Mission – presented by Dr. Matthew Gerlach
According to the course offering announcement sent out by Melissa Pardon, SHMS Distance Education Coordinator, the course “is not intended to be academically strenuous but to provide a shallow-entry point for those who have busy lives and need flexibility.
“In today’s secularized world many Catholics do not fully realize the Church’s vision for the lay vocation and the laity’s mission in the Church and in the world. This three-week course will explore the scriptural and doctrinal foundations of your lay vocation and will suggest practical ways of growing in your vocation. This course is designed for the lay faithful who wish to grow in their understanding of God’s plan for their life.”
The course description provides more information about the course:
“This course will introduce you to the incredible dignity and mission of the lay faithful. Through their consecration in Baptism and their anointing in Confirmation, the laity receive a high calling in Christ and the Spirit. Christ, the Anointed One, makes us into a “royal priesthood” and gives us a real share in His mission. He calls each of the baptized into a radical life of missionary discipleship. As we cling to Christ and follow Him daily, we are tasked with bringing the power and influence of the Gospel wherever we are, into whatever we’re doing. There are three traditional roles assigned to this lay mission: the priestly, the prophetic, and the royal. Each week of the course will be dedicated to one of these and the ways we are called to live them out–both in the Church and in the world.
“Particular emphasis will be given throughout the course to what is called the “secular character” of the lay vocation: the call of the laity to live out their missionary discipleship in the ordinary circumstances of family, work, and their participation in society and culture—primarily outside our parish involvement or lay ministries.”
Dr. Matthew Gerlach is Dean of the Institute for Lay Ministry/Associate Professor of Theology at SHMS. Dr. Gerlach has an extensive background in theology and administration of educational programs focused on the integral formation of the human person. He has served in his teaching ministry at Catholic high school and university institutions. He has a deep love for the Lord and a desire for evangelization; much of the focus of his work is on the evangelization of Church and culture through the laity. He recognizes the unique and valuable role the laity occupy in the mission of the Church today and the critical need to have a well-developed formation program for lay ecclesial ministers.
Dr. John Gresham is the Director of Distance Education and Online Learning for SHMS. He has worked as a theology professor and/or librarian at Christian Life College, Baylor University, Sterling College, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Fontbonne University and Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis MO (where he also served as Academic Dean for seven years). Dr. Gresham is a certified Spiritual Director and teaches each summer in a spirituality program for seminarians run by the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, NE. Dr. Gresham is a convert, traveling a spiritual pilgrimage from evangelical and Pentecostal roots through the Episcopal Church, finally finding his way home to the Catholic Church in 1996. In 2008, he shared his story on the Journey Home program on EWTN. He has been married almost 40 years, has 5 children and 3 grandchildren.
Anyone interested in signing up for the course can do so by clicking on this LINK.