(Pictured: Dr. Barber, Professor of Theology & Scripture)
— By Hannah Dorss —
Bonnie Curtis didn’t enter JPCatholic’s MA in Biblical Theology program with career goals in mind, but rather because she was simply excited to study theology for it’s own sake. Although still in the program, Bonnie says she’s already deepened her faith, and learned to integrate philosophy and theology into her faith life and everyday conversations.
When Bonnie’s husband decided to become a deacon, she was required to go through the formation process along with him. During four years of formation, which included taking theology and Bible classes, her love for Scripture increased, she says. This soon sparked her desire to look for a Master’s degree in theology. Bonnie says she was looking for a program that would specifically emphasize Biblical Theology and Scripture, while challenging her academically. For her, the degree and its usefulness was less important than the actual subject of study.
Though it did not take her long to settle on attending JPCatholic, Bonnie had to be patient before starting the program. At the time, she was still homeschooling her youngest child, helping her husband prepare for his ordination, and waiting for JPCatholic to become accredited so she could use the GI bill for her education. While waiting for two years, Bonnie decided to take JPCatholic’s philosophy certificate, through which she became acquainted with many of the university’s professors.
Bonnie says that taking classes with Drs. Barber and Kincaid before officially beginning the MA program made her confident that the MA program at JPCatholic was the right fit. She says she knew these professors would challenge her while also being accessible and kind. Bonnie explains that taking philosophy classes at JPCatholic was hugely important for her pre-Master’s Degree formation, explaining that her deficit in philosophy would have held her back from studying theology in a meaningful way.
Now that Bonnie is in the MA program, she says the biggest highlights are the great professors, the opportunity to study theology and philosophy together, and above all, the emphasis on integrating knowledge and faith life. Dr. Barber and Dr. Kincaid, she says, constantly encourage the MA students to take their new knowledge of Scripture into their personal prayer life. Bonnie cites her heightened participation in the Mass as a prime example of how this emphasis on knowledge and prayer has influenced her. “I understand it in a new and more profound way,” she says.
Another highlight of JPCatholic’s MA program, Bonnie says, are the young people in her classes. She says, “It adds this really dynamic atmosphere to the classroom that I find very stimulating.” Although she may bring more experience to the table, Bonnie says she truly learns from the younger students and really enjoys their enthusiastic presence. “Everybody’s incredibly smart and the fresh perspective that you get from young people is a big bonus for me that I couldn’t really get anywhere else.”
Bonnie definitely feels that the MA program at JPCatholic has deepened her faith and knowledge in a whole new way, which fulfilled her goal in entering the program. With its brilliant professors, rigorous and coherent progression of study, emphasis on Scripture, integration of learning and prayer, and youthful atmosphere, Bonnie says JPCatholic has been everything that she hoped for. “I would definitely do it all over again,” she says.