Catholic University for New Zealand possible

A Catholic university for New Zealand is on the to do list of Te Kupenga — Catholic Theological College’s (CTC) newly-appointed dean.

Dr John Evangelista says he has big dreams for CTC and for Catholic education in New Zealand.

“Hopefully this will be the seed for the future Catholic University of New Zealand,” he says.

“We have a rich history of Catholic education here in New Zealand, very good primary and secondary schools. Why not a university?”

Evangelista is a medical doctor with a Licentiate in Theology from the University of Navarre and the Roman College of the Holy Cross in Rome.

He says he is inspired by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI’s comment that Catholic education “nurtures the soul of a nation.

“If you could imbibe Christian values into sciences, mathematics, the arts, history and everything else, it [would] make a big difference,” Benedict said.

Evangelista says although his dream of New Zealand having a Catholic university may not come to pass in his lifetime, he can make a start.

This means starting with small things like offering a teacher training programme, or a leadership course, he suggests.

“Aside from our level 5,6,7 courses in theology, we [CTC] plan to introduce a master’s programme in theology, because a lot of RE directors in Catholic schools and principals are looking for higher education, in terms of theology, that will help them in their teaching and their career.”

Other ideas include investigating offering micro-credentials and non-accredited courses, along with starting a continuing professional education programme.

Since Evangelista started working at the college, a three-year strategic plan has been developed and endorsed by their governance board.

“This is putting in the foundation for what we would like to happen in the future,” Evangelista explains.

The first point in this plan is to increase awareness of the college.

“Only a very limited number of people really know what we’re doing since the merger only started in January, 2020. We still need to tell people what we are doing and what CTC is all about.”

Another priority is succession planning to “future-proof” the college.

“A lot of our senior lecturers are close to retirement or are at retirement age. The median age really would be about 64-65 years old. We have to prepare so that in the next five years they would have already trained their successors,” Evangelista says.

In addition, CTC has embarked on a marketing campaign to increase the number of enrolments.

Holy Cross seminarians will always have a place at CTC as they “are the lifeline of the Church”, Evangelista says.

“We need more priests in New Zealand, and we have to make sure they are well-formed. There has to be a good training ground for their academic formation,” he said.

Evangelista says CTC will also help the bishops in the formation of the lay catechists. At present CTC has several lay students enrolled in the Bachelor of Theology course.


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News category: New Zealand.

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