Pratt resident earning Masters
of Theological Studies degree
through new Internet-based
For Pratt resident David Borho, delving into his first lesson that will eventually lead to a Master’s of Theological Studies (MTS) degree was as simple as turning on his home computer.
Then the real work began.
Wichita-based Newman University has teamed with the Diocese of Dodge City to present the MTS degree curriculum through a new, Internet-based program, allowing students to take classes from the comfort of their home. (This is different than the Interactive Television Network, also used in partnership with Newman, which requires students to take classes from one of 10 sites throughout the diocese.)
According to Borho, who is one of two southwest Kansas residents who enrolled in the program, the classes are “very intense and very stimulating.”
“The way it works is that classes take place on Tuesday and Thursday,” Borho explained. “They’re about an hour long.” Because students can download each class onto their home computer, they can view the class as many times as they want.
The current course being offered is “Methods of Biblical Interpretation,” the most recent class -- or module -- within that course was entitled, “Identifying the Biblical Form: the First Step in Biblical Interpretation.”
After each module, students are given a test. Then they’re “grouped with six other people and we are given a question to discuss. We blog back and forth on a site called ‘Black Board.’ We’re required to be on there at least once for every question. Most of us are chatting back and forth, agreeing or disagreeing with one another. We have direct access to the instructor if we want to email, or we can call them.”
Students take a three credit course every eight weeks without break for two years to earn their degree. Once during each eight week course, the students meet in Wichita for an intensive weekend, reviewing the material and listening to presentations by guest speakers. Students are asked to read anywhere from four to six texts for each course.
The 42 people currently enrolled in the new program come from all walks of life, Borho said.
“The vast majority are older, probably from mid-30s to mid-60s,” Borho explained. “You have ministers in other denominations; one is an active Air Force pilot; another is Father Pat York from Wichita. We have quite a diverse group. They’re all very dedicated.”
The other southwest Kansas resident is the Rev. Karen Lemon, an Episcopalian priest from Pratt. Rev. Lemon has previously earned a Pastoral Ministry degree through the Diocese of Dodge City ITV program.
For those older students who think computers and the Internet are a tad too complicated, the idea of an Internet class may seem beyond their reach. Not so, says Borho.
“Once I understood the technology and how we were using it, it was fine. It’s just an adjustment.”
Borho is the co-owner of a farm equipment dealership in Pratt. He and his wife, Glenna, who serves as Sacred Heart Parish Administrative Manager, have been strongly involved in parish leadership for many years.
“My wife, being an English major, helps tremendously,” he said with a chuckle. “She’s offered a lot of support and is very encouraging.”
When asked why he decided to commit the time to the class, he responded, “I just felt a need, a calling to learn more about Church, God and ministry. I don’t know where it’s going to take me, but I thoroughly enjoy it.
“One thing has always struck me about this and why our bishops are visionary in presenting this program: they are offering the opportunity to lay people to not only know their faith, but to be leaders in their parishes and dioceses by educating them. They’re really living up to the call of Vatican II for lay involvement and lay leadership to be leaven to the world.”
The MTS program was introduced by Father Joseph Gile of Newman University in collaboration with Father Robert Schremmer of the Diocese of Dodge City, and Newman president, Dr. Noreen Carrocci.
“I think it’s important that I credit [Bishop Ronald Gilmore, Wichita Bishop Michael Jackels], Father Schremmer and Father Gile for having the vision and seeing the need for this type of program for our church.”