Jennifer Vincent serves as a Pastoral Associate at The Cathedral of Our Lady of Victory in Victoria, Texas. She earned her MA degree in Theology from CDU in 2016.
“As a result of taking on this spiritual/educational journey, I have landed the job of my dreams,” she says. As Pastoral Associate, Jennifer assesses the needs of the parish, develops ministries to address those needs, and assists her pastor in ministry updates. She also develops adult faith formation programs for Lent.
When Jennifer began her studies in theology, she was teaching elementary religious education but knew she wanted to move into adult faith formation. She considered taking online courses at universities that were closer to her home, but they required periodic on campus testing. “I needed to be able to stay home for my family while still studying and working toward my master's degree,” she says.
CDU gave her the opportunity to take her faith to a deeper level and made her more conscious of her calling as a lay person to build up the Body of Christ through education, service, and ministry to the parishioners she encounters.
“Being a mother of six in my fifties when I began the CDU journey, I was worried at first about being able to keep up with my classmates.”
“I was not a child of the new technological era; I remember the world of encyclopedias and typewriters! But my fears were alleviated by the ever helpful and encouraging staff at CDU. Their guidance made transitioning to a virtual college a relatively painless experience,” she says.
“CDU opened my eyes to a world of learning that is accessible, engaging, and inspiring,” she adds. “Every class left me hungry for more!”
Jennifer says that coursework in Sacred Scripture and Church teachings has been invaluable for developing parish programs that address the needs of the faithful while staying faithful to the magisterium of the Church. “Ever mindful of our Father’s merciful love, I am now privileged to walk with couples in marriage preparation and marriage healing, as well as sponsor someone on the journey of seeking understanding and healing through the annulment process,” she adds.
Her study of theology has been especially helpful in preparing presentations on sacraments and in developing an adult Confirmation course for the diocesan deanery. Jennifer has also helped her parish to develop and implement a series of adult religious education courses called “Becoming a Credible Witness.”
Reflecting on her experience at CDU, she says, “The universality and diversity of course content, as well as my fellow classmates, broadened my perspective of ‘one holy Catholic Church.’ The professors challenged me to stretch my understanding of the Body of Christ, something which has enabled me to be ever more conscious of my role as a lay person.”
“My advice to someone entering the hallowed halls of CDU for the first time would be to make use of the resources available to you, especially the Student Center and Café, where people are just waiting for you!” she says.
“They want to help and encourage, and given the chance, they will answer all your questions and not make you feel silly for asking. You will also get to know your classmates and professors and build a community of learners that strengthens your overall experience.”
“And most importantly,” she adds, “the Chapel is a wonderful resource for God’s grace – something so necessary for a fruitful journey in theology! It was wonderful to have a place to go in the CDU program where His presence was felt in the prayers and faith sharing that was made available through the virtual Chapel.”