For three weeks in June and July, I went back to Virginia Theological Seminary for school. It was my final summer residency for my doctoral program. I have a couple of papers to finish up for those courses, then the last thing to do will be my doctoral thesis. I anticipate that process taking about 18 months with an expected graduation in May 2021.
The doctoral thesis requires a methodology called Action Research. I have to design and implement a project at St. Mary’s to research and write about. My project is related to the practice of sharing our faith experiences with one another. We will have opportunities to explore with one another how we have experienced God at work in this world – in our lives or the lives of others. Everyone in the parish will be invited to participate. We will start small with some one-on-one sharing in response to some questions that I will provide at an event or series of events. After that, people will be given the opportunity, if they are so willing, to share a thought-out, prepared story with others in a different venue like during a church service, in the Bellringer, on the website, on social media, and so forth.
I will be researching this project with surveys and interviews. I anticipate the initial launch of this project to be in the fall, with the sharing continuing through Lent. Throughout that time, I will be collecting the stories people share, conducting surveys, and interviewing a cross-section of those participating for my data to analyze. Participation in this project is completely voluntary. No one is required to participate, and if you do, you only have to participate at the level that you are willing. And you can opt-out at any time.
This doctoral thesis project will be the culmination of my studies. I have learned so much and I believe that it is making me a better priest, helping me serve you better. I notice within myself, and have heard feedback from others, that my studies have improved my preaching, writing, teaching, and leading. And I anticipate that this doctoral project thesis will continue to improve my skills in all of those areas. I look forward to engaging
in this process with you. More coming soon! Thank you!