Monday, March 26, 2012

Women in Korean Catholic Seminaries

Most of us would not expect to hear women's voices in Catholic seminaries in Korea, but if they were to visit the campus of the Seoul seminary, they would be surprised. Their voices have been there, and plenty of them for the past 40 years, the Peace Weekly reports. Seminaries traditionally have been where men were educated for the priesthood; we now have religious and lay people studying along-side the seminarians.

Two of the lay  students when asked why they chose to attend a seminary responded first by saying that it was a question they had heard often. One said she wanted to come in touch with the basics, and that God was the adequate subject of such an inquiry. The other said she wanted to confront and solve the problems she faced in life, and believed the answers to those problems could be found in the study of theology.

Another said she believed it was necessary to get rid of the dreams of what campus life would be. There are no couples walking hand in hand, women  do not use much makeup nor do they go to classes with short skirts. One of the women remarked that this would be a distraction to the  young men.

The atmosphere is controlled by those who are studying for the priesthood, so there are limits that are set. The non-seminarians are only allowed to go to the lecture hall and the library. At lunch, the seminarians eat separately, provoking one of the female students interviewed to admit that it was not to her liking. Up until third year the seminarians are not allowed to leave the property, and after classes must return to their dormitories.

The study load is equivalent to what a third-year high-school student needs to take in preparation for college exams. 8 to 10  subjects are taken during a semester. The required subjects take most of the time, one of the students said. Homework is not excessive, but more time is required to prepare oneself for the philosophy classes. One of the women said that taking Latin, Hebrew and Greek for those who are not accustomed to the study of languages is difficult, but that was okay with her because she believed they were necessary to understand the Scriptures in depth. 

One of the lay students said that he  did not feel he belonged, but the way the professors treated the lay students made us want to study. Working on the  studies and aware of God the difficulties are overcome, he said.

A big problem for the Church in Korea is how to take advantage of these many young people with degrees in theology. This is one of the worries that the lay students are faced with as they proceed through the course. One of the  professors, expressing the same concern, said that the need was for more students with master and doctoral degrees, but where will they have an opportunity to work? he asked. At present, there are 216 students in the seminary and 72 are laity. At the graduate level, there are 151, of which 45 are laity.  

No comments:

Post a Comment