BC SealBoston College Magazine Fall 2004
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Church21 enters a new phase

Boston College has extended its Church in the 21st Century initiative beyond the two-year life span originally planned. The decision was prompted by the positive response to the initiative among Catholic laity, scholars, and religious and by the continuing need for discussion of key issues facing the U.S. Catholic Church, said University President William P. Leahy, SJ, in an interview. A permanent center will be established to carry on the aims of Church21 (as the initiative has come to be called), with a director to be named by spring 2005. In the meantime, the initiative's third academic year, 2004–05, has already seen the introduction of a new format: the interactive online class.

"As we listen to our alumni and talk to people involved in the Catholic community, the need is so apparent for education, discussion, dialogue, and partnership," said Leahy. "We believe this initiative can contribute to assisting the Church and its members to move from crisis to renewal." Church21, he said, will continue to focus on the roles of lay men and women, priests, and bishops; the religious education of Catholics; and sexuality in the Catholic tradition and contemporary culture.

Church21 will also continue to sponsor conferences, lectures, and other events on campus. On September 17, the academic year opened with a conference entitled "Handing On the Faith," which included a keynote lecture by Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley, OFM Cap, and brought together prominent Catholic scholars and leaders such as historian Scott Appleby of Notre Dame, journalist Paul Baumann of Commonweal, and sociologist Mary Johnson, SND, of Emmanuel College to discuss challenges to passing on the Catholic faith to future generations. (More on the conference, from BCM's Church21 section) On October 18, John L. Allen, the Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, delivered a talk on "How Rome Views the American Church." A three-part series of weekend classes on the future of Catholic identity, with New York Times religion columnist Peter Steinfels, began on September 17 and will conclude on November 20. And a conference on the Catholic priesthood is planned for June.

Meanwhile the first online Church21 course, developed in collaboration with BC's Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, was launched on October 1. Entitled "What Makes Us Catholic," it was taught by IREPM Director Thomas Groome and faculty member Barbara Radtke. The focus of the four-week class, which will be offered again in January at a cost of $75, was "integrating the Catholic faith into 'real life.'" Texts, video segments with Groome and Radtke, and other resources were included, and participants were assigned to small groups for online conversation and faith sharing.

In March, Radtke will lead an online course geared to parents on educating in the faith. Information on this and other Church21 offerings can be found at the initiative's website.

Public affairs staff

 

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