EDMONTON (CCN) - His brother led his way. Thomas Saretsky came from Saskatoon to visit his brother at Newman Theological College while his brother was discerning the priesthood at the college.
"I fell in love with it," said Saretsky. "They (teachers) were never self-righteous and were accommodating, open minded and so much fun."
Saretsky, a high school chaplain in Saskatoon, wanted to be an academically qualified chaplain. But there was no school in his own province to give him the needed instruction.
He tells his story following his graduation from Newman College after receiving his graduate diploma in religious education at the Newman College convocation Oct. 18.
The diploma took its toll. The father of two children, Saretsky had to take the bulk of his coursework online. "They were hard, really, really hard," he said of his courses. His studies included road trips and flights to Edmonton. All of the expenses were paid from his own pocket. He took a class a semester. "But it was important to me and gave me great blessings beyond money."
Saretsky began his online courses while the college was in its original location near St. Albert. "It was a mythical place. I remember them showing me around, the smell of the chalkboards. It was the most inspiring, faith-deepening experience I have ever had."
While many university and college students grumble about profs, papers and tuition, Saretsky flourished with praise long and loud about the courses and his teachers.
The courses were "of fertile soil so rich you could not help but grow," he enthused. "The professors were so nurturing and demanding, you came out battered and bruised. Their expectations are very high. It is no walk in the park."
Also a writer for The Prairie Messenger, Saretsky's day-to-day interactions with students and staff were not judgmental. "It allowed the envelope to grow and flourish and we did not cower into institutional thinking." "It made me proud," and let him blaze his own trail. "It gave me spirit, courage to act and speak out." Now with his graduate diploma in religious education, Saretsky feels empowered, confident in what needs to be expressed.
But his memories of Newman sing in his heart. "I found people so fantastic."