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A Trip To Boston

I was recently blessed to receive a Fellowship and Travelling Scholarship from Boston College, as well as the Mary Ward Grant from the Australian Loreto Sisters, to study a Masters of Theological Studies majoring in Liturgy for the 2014/15 academic years.

Studying at Boston College has been a wonderful experience so far and key to this has been hospitality, excellent organisation and scholarship, and the explicit partnership of worship and mission I have experienced both at BC and in the local parish of Saint Ignatius in Brighton.

The liturgies especially form the heart of this extended faith community, and they empower and impel members to go out and glorify God by the way they live their lives. Seeing the God in all things is central to the Jesuit way of living and being in the world and evidence of this is amply present every day in life at Boston College. The emphasis is on being an active disciple of Christ today. Pope Francis, our first Jesuit Pope, is courageously leading the way!


The author – Fiona Dyball during a moment of quiet study in the Boston College Library

Training Matters

The commitment to having people trained in their ministries to a high level makes a world of a difference. It is not any kind of elitism but an enabling of the potential of liturgy to form and feed people. The people who hold key leadership roles are highly skilled but also wonderful examples of Christian servant leadership: the hospitality is rich and genuine. This partners with mission options at the local, national and international levels.

Some of the highlights of my year so far have been the excellent and thought provoking classes at BC and Harvard; the Lenten Program at St Cecilia’s and the Triduum at St Ig’s; the camaraderie of students and teachers; hearing the inspiring stories of some of my classmates who serve some of the most at-risk people in the world; the choirs; hearing Cardinal Walter Kaspar speak on mercy; the well-planned and beautiful liturgies each day; and exploring the great city of Boston. I’m looking forward to heading over to Music Ministry Alive in Minnesota with the great David Haas in July/August where I will be on the US National Team for training young liturgical musicians. The summer will be rounded at an eight-day retreat in August at the Jesuit Retreat Centre in Gloucester by the Atlantic ocean.

Some of the great people at Boston College.

Fundamental Theology class at Boston College with our Professor, John Sachs SJ. He studied with Walter Kaspar in Tubingen and is a wonderful teacher. The quote on the board is from Nietzsche (left anonymously!) and we thought it was apt in context: Mercy is true strength! Cardinal Kaspar came to BC to speak on Mercy not along after this photo was taken. Mitt Romney’s old campaign manager is in this class. He was very candid: what do you do after you lose a presidential election? A Theology Masters of course! Some exceptional servants of God in this class who will be going back to countries where they will serve some of the most at-risk people in the world. Many will likely spend some time in jail (and perhaps worse) for standing with their people in faith. Beautiful people.

Resourcing Arts Programs in Catholic Schools

I would urge leadership in Catholic primary and secondary schools to put significant resources into your Arts programs; they are core to so many things, especially wellbeing. Music is vital in faith development, and what we sing matters: it is encoded into our long-term memories (and the nuns are not there to provide music for free anymore!). We need to understand that training young people in what liturgy is and what it can do will make other evangelical goals easier in our schools and wider church communities.

It’s important to support and work with the music program at your school and parish. This means investing in trained people, having a realistic budget, committing to a steady room for rehearsal and classes, and including the Arts people as part of your key staff. I have witnessed this as the missing piece of the puzzle at so many schools and parishes. Worship and mission are the anchors of our Catholic Identity. Consciously partnering with musicians, dancers and artists helps to realise the much richer faith goals we all seek for our students. Sometimes a song, a dance or a beautiful artwork points to God more that any essay, lecture or wordy presentation could ever do.

I feel so blessed to have experienced truth, beauty and goodness in equal measure in this community. This is part of the treasure I will take home to share in Australia in 2016. I wish you all God’s peace in your own communities and ministries, and feel free to contact me here in Boston on Deo Gratias!

Boston College

The School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College


Useful Links:

Liturgical resources:
2. Liturgical music links and information:
3. David Haas’ Music Ministry Alive! Music Camp

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