His welcome into the Church also heralded the start of an exciting new chapter in his life which has involved extensive study to learn more about Christianity.
“I wasn’t really sure at the time what I was going to do, but coincidental with my retirement was my participation in the RCIA program in the Salisbury parish,” Darryl, 55, told The Southern Cross.
“One of the things that had floated around in my mind before retirement was perhaps I should investigate what it is to be Catholic more substantially. Before that my excuse had been, I was a bit busy to do that while I was working, so I thought I might as well have a look at that.
“Of course I was thinking this isn’t going to take very long!”
Five years later, the former electronics engineer who worked in the Defence Department for 30 years, said he is enjoying delving into the theoretical and practical aspects of Catholicism and is relishing his latest foray – a graduate certificate in Theological Studies at the Australian Catholic University (ACU).
“One of the big things for me at the end of the RCIA process was that catechist Lorraine Thalbourne was keen to impress on us that this was not the end of your Catholic journey, this is the beginning. That planted the seed for me.”
Admitting it was probably due to his engineering background, Darryl said he liked to “look at things in detail and understand why things are the way they are”.
Since becoming a Catholic Darryl (pictured) has completed several one-day short courses with the ACU as well as an 18-month course led by Jenny O’Brien from the Office for Worship which covered the liturgy of the Catholic Church in a more formal sense.
It was during this time Darryl met Aldo Floreani from the Ministry Formation Program (MFP) who suggested he might like to undertake online studies with Dayton University in the USA.
Last year Darryl completed several courses with the University, covering the Old and New Testaments and the Eucharist.
“I thought, this is pretty reasonable, but what else can I investigate and understand? I felt I needed to learn more,” he said.
This time he took a good look at the MFP and eventually signed up for the graduate certificate at the ACU. Darryl is studying “part part-time”, completing one subject every semester. While the ACU has a campus at Thebarton which provides a useful resource, most of the course content is accessed online.
“It’s different to undergraduate study when you have a goal, for me I don’t have an ‘end’, I just want to understand more and gather more knowledge and apply that in my parish.
“It’s a change from engineering where it’s either right or wrong – will the building stand up, will the car not crash, will the plane fly?
“In a relationship with God it is a more amorphous-type situation and you have to be prepared to meet people rather than conquer people, it’s a change of thinking and I’m still on that path on how to relate to people with different perspectives.
“Some people have similar perspectives to me, some people have radically different perspectives, but we’re still under the house of God in the Catholic Church and we have to work together, be together and be united in some way.”
Darryl said his studies provide for interesting discussions with his wife Debra, a cradle Catholic, and their children Anne, 27, Allan, 24 and James, 22, who were all raised Catholic.
Although he has no “goal” in mind regarding his theological studies, Darryl is buoyed knowing the current course offers future options.
“If you get to the end and still have a thirst for knowledge you can go on….you can do the certificate, the diploma, the Masters. You also get formal recognition that you have accomplished something, which is important.”
And his advice for others in their retirement who might be interested in going back to the books?
“Be aware of the time commitment because it will require some effort and choose an area of study that is suited to your abilities and interests.”
While he spends about 12 to 15 hours a week on his study, Darryl finds time for another of his interests – four wheel driving. He volunteers as a liaison officer between the Department for Environment and Water and the 4WDSA Association for the Ngarkat Conservation Park near Pinnaroo, helping to organise remediation work and keep the park in good order for all users.
For more information about the Ministry Formation Program or study at ACU go to ww.adelaide.catholic.org.au/education/ministry-formation-program or contact Suzanne Horan, firstname.lastname@example.org; P: 8152 7807.
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