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Adult Education tutor Greg Ryan thinks there is something in it for everyone.

You may have seen the article in last month’s “Hallam News” about the Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies (CCRS) – starting in September at the Pastoral Centre.  The Diocese has run this national course for a number of years, and participants have praised it not just for developing knowledge (and for school teachers, gaining a qualification for professional development), but for enriching the depth of their faith.

CCRS students get to grips with the New Testament

CCRS students get to grips with the New Testament

Doing the CCRS allows people to continue this journey of faith at any point in their life.  In fact one of the particular strengths of the course here in Hallam is the sharing of experience and wisdom across the generations.  However, as the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales said in “The Priority of Adult Formation” (1999), “many adults feel that their own formation effectively ended as children”.  This rings true with some of the conversations I’ve had with participants, but I would like to reassure anyone thinking about starting the CCRS that it is designed to be as inclusive and accessible as possible.

There is no requirement for a background in Religious Studies at any level, or indeed for any formal qualifications, so long as the assignments can be submitted in readable English.  The most common worry is having to do written assignments – perhaps for the first time since school days.  To help, we have friendly, experienced tutors who will provide support and guidance, as well as study resources such as reading lists, notes and exercises.  The Pastoral Centre has a well-stocked adult education library with the key texts you’ll need.  Once you are over the psychological barrier of writing 1500 words (3-4 pages), you may find the biggest challenge is compressing your ideas into that word limit!

Adult Education library at the Hallam Pastoral Centre

Adult Education library at the Hallam Pastoral Centre

You also have the option of just taking the course without qualifying for the national certificate, which means that you do not have to do the assignments.  On the other hand, for anyone who wants to study the subject more deeply, tutors are happy to recommend further reading and discuss topics and assignments in more depth.

Like many of the tutors, I’ve been fortunate to experience both sides of adult formation in Hallam.  In 1999, when the Bishops of England and Wales were writing “The Priority of Adult Formation”, I was finishing my MA in theology at the Pastoral Centre.  More recently I’ve been teaching on the CCRS and have seen the powerful “buzz” in the room when participants get a new insight into scripture, faith or life.  But it’s not just the input from the teaching that is important – it’s what the people on the course bring into the discussions and reflections.  I certainly never stop learning from the questions, stories and insights that are generously shared in exploring the faith together.  Hopefully that will be the experience of everyone who signs up to start the course in September.

You can register for the CCRS and find out more at our resources website www.hallamyof.weebly.com.  Or you can contact us here: Adult Education Office, Hallam Pastoral Centre, St Charles Street, Sheffield, S9 3WU, tel 0114 2566410, email adulteducation@hallam-diocese.com.

Greg Ryan is diocesan co-ordinator for CCRS.  He can be contacted at gryan@hallam-diocese.com or via the Adult Education office.