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Seminary Graduates Searching for God’s Heart
Canadian seminary studies were never in Hidetaka Yoshida’s plans—nevermind a graduate degree from Providence Theological Seminary.
“When I came to Canada for the first time I didn’t know about Providence,” he says. “I came to learn English.”
It was through his language course in Steinbach that Yoshida heard about the school, and before long he was living on the Otterburne campus.
Four-and-a-half years later Yoshida, who previously attended seminary in his native Japan, is set to graduate from Providence with a Master of Divinity. He’ll begin pastoring a Japanese church in 2016 and in the meantime plans to visit Israel.
If his career path has been a winding one, with a surprise or two along the way, it is hardly unusual in the seminary context, where students feel and respond to God’s prompting at various stages of life, and from anywhere in the world.
Rachel Crowe studied at the London-based University of Western Ontario before enrolling in the Master of Arts in Counselling program through the Providence Calgary Extension Site. She’ll also be graduating this spring and looks forward to putting her skills to use in Alberta.
“I was really excited to get the training to be a counsellor from a faith perspective,” she says. “Providence has the only Christian counselling course you can take out here.”
Crowe, who discovered community with her fellow students at the
Extension Site on the Ambrose Seminary campus, found her practicum experiences to be especially formative.
“Everything I had learned in the years prior was leading up to the practicums. I had a really incredible experience and the support I received through Prov was really, really good,” she says.
Heidi Dirks found the Providence faculty to be similarly engaging and cites “the importance of relationship” as the primary takeaway from her time pursuing a Master of Arts in Counselling.
“All my professors have been very willing to meet, whether I want to talk about school stuff or things going on outside school,” she says. “They really want to get to know their students. They’re here because they enjoy being with students.”
Dirks worked several years as a high school teacher and made the switch to counselling after she realized she “had neither the time nor the skills to help” her students in the ways they needed.
She’ll provide the Valedictorian Address at Saturday’s Theological Seminary Graduation Ceremony (10:00 a.m., Jubilee Auditorium) and will remain in southern Manitoba for work.
But, she says, she’s still not finished learning, and never will be.
“I want to continue learning and training and gaining experience because that’s how I grow as a person and as a counsellor,” she explains.
Crowe concurs.
“I know there’s so much more journeying to do and so much more growth to happen,” she says.
Additionally, all three seminary graduates say their spiritual lives have been enriched during their association with Providence.
For Hidetaka, an international student, God revealed himself through “very tough times,” and Providence had a “big impact” on his ability to persevere.
“Through the tough times I learned my weaknesses and the experiences made me humble,” he says. “Those experiences were very good for me.”
Dirks, who also attended the University College before pursuing her education accreditation, says Providence both “shaped” her perception of social justice and “stretched” her spiritual life.
Crowe, meanwhile, increased her closeness to God and, at the same time, discovered she was learning more about herself.
“As I came home to myself and worked on what was going on in myself I also became closer to God,” she says. “I learned to search for his heart.”
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