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May 31, 2013

Meet John Angotti, Jean Rogers and Robert Cowlishaw. These folks, along with three of their peers, were the first class to obtain a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (M.A.P.S.) degree through CTU’s distance learning program.

I had the opportunity to interview John, Jean, and Robert when they were in town for graduation. I admired their discipline, drive, and curiosity.  The group had a purpose in life greater than themselves. A common theme emerged as John, Jean and Robert discussed how CTU deepened their faith.

Robert hails from Salt Lake City, Utah where he works as a systems analyst and is planning to transition to a career in ministry. Robert described having a traditional, static view of God as “a guy with a beard on a throne.” CTU challenged these beliefs. “My first year I took a class at CTU’s Summer Institute – ‘God and the Modern World,’” he said. “I realized that God is beyond our conception. God is a mystery, and that mystery is a beautiful thing.”

Robert likened his awakening process to “letting go of Santa Claus…it was probably the most powerful and disruptive concept I learned at CTU.”

Musician John Angotti is a successful performer who uses music as a tool to bring a message of hope. He enrolled at CTU because he recognized that if he was going to continue writing for the Church, he needed to further his education and go deeper than his own personal experience.

“CTU has allowed me to recognize that everything around me is a gift,” he said. “I’ve opened up now to [see] that every relationship, every moment is an encounter with God.”

Jean serves both as associate campus minister of community building and as director of music and liturgy at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. “Studying at CTU has deepened my faith,” she said.  “There have been difficult times in my job; a new generation of students that do not see Catholicism or the Church or spirituality the way I was raised. Learning the things I’ve learned has reinvigorated my faith in humanity and the Church.”

I found all three students to be quite inspirational. I value their ability to be comfortable in the gray areas of life – the space where we ask questions but don’t necessarily receive answers.  I like this space too.  As a child, my Jewish faith taught me that there is one God.  As an adult, I still believe in a “higher power,” though not shaped, gendered or perceived in the traditional view. I am happy to be working at an institution where questions are just as important as answers.

To see John, Jean and Robert’s interviews, visit in a few days. And for more information on CTU’s distance learning program click here.