Q&A With William Obiero, New Glenmary Seminarian
The three new men who entered Glenmary in the fall of 2012—William Obiero, Patrick Muriithi and Paul Nyabuto—are currently in their first year of studies for the priesthood at Saint Meinrad Seminary (Ind.), while living nearby at Glenmary's House of Studies. All three are natives of Kenya who arrived in this country for the first time in August.
William recently took some time out to answer questions about his first semester at the seminary:
Q: How are your studies in the United States different from those in Kenya?
A: The teaching methods over here are very different from those in Kenya. The approach here is to be very aware and careful of the surrounding cultural environment in this country, given its multicultural nature. There is a tendency to make sure that all aspects of the lifestyles of all individuals are taken into consideration. I have listened to the lecturers, read their notes and tried to analyze their teaching methods, and one thing that is clear is that, on certain topics, some conclusions are left to the student. You are provided with thought-provoking information and insights—and you can then draw some of your own conclusions.
In my previous courses in Kenya while preparing for the priesthood, the teaching approach was: This is wrong and this is right. This is what people, scholars and the world think to be right, but it is wrong. The Church says this, which is right.
Q: What has been your favorite class so far?
A: One of the classes that I find helpful right now is catechetics. The lecturer handling this class is very thought-provoking and knows how to initiate a discussion, and his handling of the subject also shows how much experience he has in this area.
Catechetics is a very tricky subject since its main goal is finding the best ways to hand down faith from generation to generation. It deals with the whole population—children, youth and adults, the American people as a whole with all their dynamic culture. Glenmary missions and mission areas have cultural diversity like the rest of America. The class has opened my eyes, has given me a lot of insights, and has been good preparation for my future ministry in America.
Q: What have been some challenges in your catechetics class?
A: Catechetics shows us that there are multiple ways to evangelize people and bring them to a conversion of faith. To me, catechetics is challenging since faith is a personal act, the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act; no one can believe alone, like no one can live alone. No one has given himself or herself either life or faith. The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 166).
Q: What has sparked your interest?
A: Catechetics is holistic, and some specific questions about catechetics and discussions related to them have been fascinating. Here are examples of those questions: Which aspects of American culture are most supportive of the Christian message, and which are most hostile toward that message? Is it possible not to be influenced and manipulated by popular culture and its implications for catechetical practice?
Q: What have you found enjoyable in your courses?
A: The class PowerPoint presentations and the student presentations are quite enjoyable to me. The class discussions that always emerge after presentations are very stimulating and give me a lot of insights; some topics covered are imperative for my ministry in the American culture.
Q: What other surprises have you encountered in your first semester?
A: There have not been any other big surprises except for the fact that there is not one standard method or way of teaching over here. And on assignments, lecturers have different preferences on how papers are to be presented. I am doing my best to adapt to everything new in my courses.