In a few hours I will make my way to Fiumicino to catch the first of three flights back home. First is a flight from Rome to Amsterdam, then the long 12-hour flight to LA, and then another quick flight up to Monterey. It has been a good and productive trip, but it will be wonderful to be home again!
The meetings here concerning our international study institute on the diaconate have gone very well. The University of St. John Lateran (the "Lateranum") has emerged as a key player in our planning, and we laid out a three-year summer program of courses. This means that a person has choices: for those able and interested in doing so, a person could come to Rome for three summers and complete a Master's Degree awarded by the Lateranum. Alternatively, a person could simply come for a single course purely out of personal interest, or, still again, could take a course or two which would provide transfer credit to another graduate degree being taken elsewhere. For example, if a person were working on a Master's degree or Ph.D. at a university in the United States, 1 or 2 of the Institute's courses could be applied to the course work for that degree, since our courses are fully accredited as well. Finally, a student who is enrolled in a university at which one of our faculty members is on staff, the course in Rome can be taken for credit at the faculty member's "home" institution as well. For example, I could teach a course for the Institute in Rome, but a student from Santa Clara University could receive credit from Santa Clara for the course.
The academic prerequisites for the Institute program will be a baccalaureate degree, preferably in Theology or a related discipline. The Roman and Vatican officials are quite insistent that the Institute be a place for graduate level work, and this really is the point of the Institute as well. Courses are open to all qualified persons (and not only deacons) who are interested in study and research on the diaconate, and this cuts a wide swath: from history and archaeology, to biblical exegesis and the patristics, to ecclesiology, systematics, moral, spiritual and liturgical theology, to canon law.
Not all courses will be taught every summer. Instead, there is a three-year plan of study: the first summer will be devoted to scripture and the patristics; the second summer to theology, and the third summer to pastoral-ministerial topics.
We even agreed on a name of the Institute. It will be known as the "Studium Internazionale sul Diaconato San Lorenzo": the "Saint Lawrence International Institute on the Diaconate"
Once I get home, I'll be working on developing some English language materials on all of this, and we're putting together a web site that will link everyone together as well. So stay tuned!