Adult faith enrichment for the busy person

By Barb Arland-Fye

You can spend time exploring the depiction of God in the Old Testament during the first session of an adult faith enrichment speaker series at St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf.

Micah Kiel, assistant professor of theology at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, will lead the exploration for “God in the Old Testament,” scheduled for Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. in St. John Vianney’s activity center. Kiel, a member of St. John Vianney, is one of several St. Ambrose University theologians and philosophers serving as guest speakers for the first-time series. All are invited to the free sessions.

 On Nov. 3 and 10 Corinne Winter, a theology professor, will present “Waiting with Mary,” first exploring the relationship between Marian doctrines and doctrines of Christ and of the Church, and then looking at the diverse ways in which devotion to Mary has been expressed.

“Cinema, Catholic Social Thought and the Progress of Peace,” is the theme of a two-part talk Jan. 24 and 31 led by Father Brian Miclot, professor of philosophy, Jessica Gosnell, assistant professor of philosophy, and Bert and Ollie Finn, St. John Vianney parishioners and members of Pax Christi.

The series concludes with a two-part Lenten presentation “Why did Jesus have to Die?” which Kiel will lead March 24 and 31. During these two sessions participants will explore the Gospel of Mark and pay close attention to how the authors of the New Testament struggled to understand the tragedy of Jesus’ public execution at the hands of the Romans. A simple Lenten soup dinner will be served before the start of both sessions.

 The goal of the faith enrichment series is to “educate people, increase people’s faith and get them talking more about their faith,” said Judy Benevento, who helps coordinate adult education for the parish. She and Father Robert “Mac” McAleer, the pastor, and liturgy and music director Eleanor Kiel (Micah Kiel’s wife), and former RCIA director Mary Ellen Olson brainstormed about ideas for speakers and topics of interest to adult learners.

“We wanted a broad spectrum of topics,” Benevento said.

“The four pillars of our Church are: believing the faith, celebrating our faith, living our faith and praying. We were looking at some way of fitting those in,” Olson added.

They decided to tap into the resources already at hand — parishioner Micah Kiel, who had spoken before at St. John Vianney; the Finns, who also are members of the parish; Fr. Miclot, who’s presided at Mass at St. John Vianney when needed; and Winter, who’d also presented previously at the parish.

Keeping in mind people’s busy lives and time constraints, the organizers chose a format that presents topics in one or two sessions each, about 1-1/2 hours in length — including questions and answers and refreshments. The sessions are open to anyone interested in the topics.

The presenters and their presentations will hopefully whet the appetite for follow-up faith enrichment, Fr. McAleer said. The series begins with Kiel’s presentation on God in the Old Testament because Bible studies will be getting underway shortly afterward, Olson said. “We thought that was a good start.”

Benevento said speakers have been asked to make the presentations interactive so participants can ask questions and grow in their faith.

All of the sessions will be held in the parish’s activity center except for Winter’s, which will be held in the Mary Chapel. Refreshments will be served afterward.

For more information, call the parish at (563) 332-7910.

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