September 9,1999 - Newswire Release

by Michael O. Garvey

N.B. Further information on STEP may be obtained by calling program coordinator Thomas Cummings at (219) 631-5510.

The University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Church Life will inaugurate its new Satellite Theological Education Program (STEP) Sept. 25 (Sat.) with the first of four interactive videoconferences providing pastoral training and theological education for ministers and laypeople in four Catholic dioceses.

The first of STEP’s videoconferences, or “Institute Days,” will link some 300 people gathering at ten sites in the dioceses of Reno, Nev.; Erie, Pa..; and Winona, Minn.

“This creative use of distance learning technologies is one important and effective way for our University to deploy its resources in the service of the Church,” said Notre Dame’s president Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C.

According to Thomas Cummings, coordinator of STEP, each Institute Day videoconference will include a gathering prayer, an educational videotape presentation, and a live discussion coordinated from the Notre Dame campus by a theologian or pastoral expert. STEP is designed as a resource for dioceses which are mostly rural and without Catholic seminaries, colleges and universities. With the help of Notre Dame’s Office of Institutional Technologies, the program will provide these dioceses with educational services through videoconferencing and, eventually, a home website and electronic courses offered on the Internet.

The first Institute Day’s theme will be “Discipleship and Ministry,” and the discussion will be led by Jane Regan of the Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry at Boston College. Rev. Michael Driscoll, assistant professor of theology at Notre Dame; Lawrence Cunningham, professor of theology at Notre Dame; and theologian Brother Loughlan Sofield, S.T., will lead subsequent Institute Day discussions on the Eucharist, the integration of faith and everyday life, and collaboration among priests, religious and laypeople.

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