image Conference: The Canadian Forum on Theology and Education

Kenneth L. Parker, Steber Professor of Theological Studies, St. Louis University

The Canadian Forum on Theology and Education

Oakville, Ontario

Thursday November 13th to Friday November 14th 2014


Coming to Terms with the Past: How Our Understanding of the Past Shapes Our Future

Kenneth L. Parker, Steber Professor of Theological Studies, St. Louis University

Preparations for the Synod on the Family have raised many questions for Catholics around the world. Will there be changes in the Church’s teaching on marriage and divorce? Will the Church’s position on human sexuality be “updated”? Will Catholics be allowed to use artificial contraception with a clear conscience? As pressing as these questions seem, a bigger question hovers in the background: Can Church teaching on these–or any other matter–ever “change”?

This bigger question requires that we examine how we understand the Catholic Church’s past. Professor Kenneth Parker will lead the Canadian Forum, this November 13-14, in an examination of how our understanding of Christian history can shape the future of our Church. Dr. Parker will demonstrate how certain assumptions about the Christian past have formed theological arguments throughout the history of the Church. These assumptions have, at times, impeded our ability to address pressing pastoral and doctrinal challenges. Dr. Parker will explore how other ways of analyzing the Church’s past may aid us in responding to pressing questions in our day.

In looking at how the Church has addressed issues historically (four metanarratives) participants will be better able to understand how she might approach such contemporary issues as the scientific origins of the universe, evolution, women in the church, and understandings of homosexuality offered by medicine, the sciences and social sciences. These are some of the issues that concern students in Catholic schools and adults in parishes. And not just in religious education classes and RCIA programmes.

The Canadian Forum on Theology and Education will take place in Oakville Thursday November 13th and Friday November 14th 2014.

The Thursday schedule will run from 3pm when registration will begin and a soup and sandwich dinner will be provided for participants. The conference proper will begin at 4pm and finish with a Wine and Cheese at 8pm.

Friday sessions will begin at 9am and participants will be on their way at 3pm.

This will allow more than seven hours to focus on a topic of significance to teachers, administrators and chaplains as all have a role to play in the educational and catechetical vision and mission of Catholic schools.

For registration information when it becomes available, go to

About Ken Parker:

Faith has nothing to fear from historical research.
Pope John Paul II, 1999

I bring to my study of historical theology an unusual personal background. Born into the home of a Pilgrim Holiness pastor in the mountains of North Carolina, my interests in theology began in childhood as I tried to understand the doctrine of entire sanctification my father preached. During studies at Fuller Seminary I came to know a monastery in the Mojave Desert, where I learned to cherish the ancient spiritual traditions of Christianity. While doing research on the English Reformation at the University of Cambridge, I became a Roman Catholic (October 1982). Three years later, after finishing my PhD and teaching at the University of Alabama, I returned to Saint Andrew’s Abbey in California to become a monk. Five years of monastic life deeply affected my development as a theologian.

I arrived at Saint Louis University in 1992 and have enjoyed being part of a dynamic and innovative period in the Department of Theological Studies. As Director of Undergraduate Studies (1994-1997), I participated in the growth of our program from a dozen students to over 130 majors and minors. Outcomes assessment based education became a keen interest of mine and was an integral part of the curriculum reform process that I led from 1993-1997.






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