Students on social justice course receive certificates

On Thursday 29 October, some of the students who completed Module 1 of the Social Justice online course attended a ceremony at the Catholic Religious Education Development Institute (CREDI) to receive their Certificates which are signed jointly by the University of Dayton (UD) and CREDI. 

Front Row  - left to right: Hayden Tidd, Sean Julien, Renessa Tang Pack, Nigel Cassimire, Yvette Woodruffe (collected certificate for Cheridan Woodruffe) Back Row  - left to right: Sr Roberta O’Flaherty, Selwyn Bhajan, Leela Ramdeen, Robert Persaud.

Front Row - left to right: Hayden Tidd, Sean Julien, Renessa Tang Pack, Nigel Cassimire, Yvette Woodruffe (collected certificate for Cheridan Woodruffe) Back Row - left to right: Sr Roberta O’Flaherty, Selwyn Bhajan, Leela Ramdeen, Robert Persaud.

In its attempt to educate the faithful about the Church’s social teaching, the Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ) has partnered with UD and CREDI  to run this 11 Module Course – grouped into levels of Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. Participants receive online tuition from the University of Dayton (UD) and CREDI facilitates the course.

Each module is about 5 weeks long. Participants are engaged for approximately 25 hours [5 hours per week] with course material and have opportunities to interact with students and facilitator (instructor) online during each Module.

The cost of each module is US$40 [or TT$260]. Each Module is worth 2.5 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) which are based on the International Academic Standards for Continuing Education 10-12 hours per CEU.

Module 1 focused on ‘Conscience’. Inter alia, it sought to help the student:

–          “see morality as a response to the universal call to holiness and as a response to the invitation of eternal life with God.;

–          understand the role of the Church, natural law and Scripture in making moral decisions” (UD).

Module 2, ‘Introduction to Christian Morality’, commenced on 18 October. This course introduces participants “to moral principles and convictions that give meaning to our actions, the role Scriptures, the Church and conscience play in shaping how we act and how our behaviour is a response to our love relationships in the human community. The nature of sin, grace and virtue will be explored.” (UD).

Leela Ramdeen says: “If we are to meet the challenge of implementing Pastoral Priority 3, which requires us to promote the regeneration of the moral and spiritual values of our society, it is essential that we raise the awareness of the faithful of the need for lifelong faith formation. Selwyn Bhajan and I have been encouraging students to stay the course. We urge others to come on board when the next series comes around. We need informed ambassadors for justice in each parish.”

Impressions of CREDI / University of Dayton Course on Conscience

(Jul – Aug 2009) by Nigel Cassimire

Through my involvement with the Social Justice Committee of my parish, St. Theresa’s Woodbrook, I have been fortunate to enroll in the courses on social justice being offered by CREDI through the University of Dayton, USA. The courses are offered on-line in modules of five weeks each and during July – August 2009, along with several others from parishes around the country, I took and completed the first course on Conscience.

The course was delivered via the University of Dayton’s web-based on-line learning platform, the use of which I found to be uncomplicated and largely intuitive. The five-week programme progressed in one-week sessions which each focused on one aspect of the main topic. Both on-line and hard copy reference resources (available at CREDI) were utilized as well as on-line quizzes, exercises and moderated discussion groups of other students addressing seed questions relevant to that week’s material. Much reference was made to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) although commentaries by researchers into the topic of conscience were the main points of departure for our study and discussion.

I found the level of the programme to be sufficiently rigorous academically while still being quite useful for day-to-day practical application. I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about my faith and strengthen my understanding and belief through study, reflection and discussion / sharing with group colleagues and the moderator. It enabled me to consider the topic from a more mature adult perspective for the first time since adolescent religious instruction classes in secondary school. I also learned new things particularly about the role of Church teachings in our moral decision-making and an understanding of the hierarchy of truths.

Being an on-line course, application of one’s time to the work is flexible however I still found it to be a challenge to make the required time available for study and on-line interaction given my other professional and personal commitments. It was however rewarding to be successful in the end, by God’s grace. I pray for the guidance to achieve similar success in the current module, Introduction to Christian Morality, which is a bit more demanding in terms of time and is being undertaken at a time of particularly pressing professional commitments for me.

Based on my limited experience with the courses so far, I would recommend them for consideration for anyone with an interest in Catholic social teaching and basic on-line navigation skills. The interaction with other students and the moderator in the discussion groups also help to energise and bring to life the learning material, bringing perspectives not achievable from individual study.

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