ST. BENEDICT — Barb Anderson, a lay alumna of Mount Angel Seminary, is grateful for her Master’s in Theology from the seminary, and in a recent phone interview, she described the ways it has shaped her work as a pastoral associate for St. Mary’s Parish in Corvallis.
As a pastoral associate, she works with the RCIA and adult education, gives retreats, takes communion to the sick, makes pastoral visits, and works on a variety of additional projects with other members of the parish staff. “I love being a pastoral associate,” said Anderson, “because it is hard and I can share my love of God with others who are different every day.” She has worked in the parish since 1990 and as the pastoral associate since 1994.
When asked why she wanted to study theology, Anderson said, “I wanted to read much more, read original documents. I wanted to know why we do what we do.” Mount Angel Seminary was the closest Catholic graduate school, and since she works with priests, she said she wanted to have some of the same teachers and formation as they did.
A current project that draws on her theological experience is a screening of Father Robert Barron’s new series on Catholicism. Anderson explained that her theological background enables her to answer people’s questions that are raised by the series or to properly direct them so they can discover the answer on their own.
When asked if she had a favorite course at the seminary, Anderson said, “I loved all of them!” Her thesis focused on the spirituality of the laity in the work of St. Francis de Sales and was directed by Sister Brigid Merriman, OSF.
Since her graduation from Mount Angel Seminary, Anderson has continued to study theology on her own through preparation for her teaching in the RCIA, by reading current encyclicals, and through her research for retreats. She recently did a school staff retreat, and in November she is offering a retreat on Saint Hildegard of Bingen. According to Anderson, her pastor, Father Steve Clovis, is very supportive of education and is encouraging her study of Spanish at the local community college as well.
Anderson explained that while she expected and received a rich intellectual experience, she also had a deeply spiritual experience as well. Through the intermingling of study and prayer, Anderson said, she was being formed all day long.
Because she has experienced the love of God through her studies, said Anderson, it is easier to share that love with others. Anderson concluded “the whole emphasis of my time at Mount Angel was to discover the love of God in a deeper way.”