So I’m thinking of applying to a university for my Master’s degree. Part of me is excited about the opportunity. Part of me feels a little ridiculous. I have children who are old enough to think about getting a Master’s degree. I worry that my time for being a student has long passed. It will take three years to earn a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministries, at the end of which time I will be 54. It’s an age that sounds pretty old to be walking to "Pomp and Circumstance". My ever-supportive husband has pointed out that I will be 54 whether I go back to school or not, so why not do it? I understand that, and I am grateful for his encouragement, but still. Is the whole idea misguided? Will I work or live long enough to justify the expense? Am I, instead of aging gracefully, clutching at straws? I hope to be able to put my degree to good use in the future as a prison chaplain. I have been volunteering with the Catholic chaplain at the nearby state prison for four years, and feel very much called to commit more deeply to this work. The prison has become like a second parish to me, the Catholic (and non-Catholic) inmates comprising a truly, and surprisingly, spiritual faith community. I believe this particular Master’s program will make me more professionally suitable to this ministry. I also believe that, although I may feel silly, I am in reality sending the message to my children that a person is never too old to learn, to expand, to challenge oneself, to take a chance; that it matters to follow a dream, however unlikely it may seem. I have worked out all the reasons to proceed. I just have to get over my own misgivings, my secret fear that maybe a person can be too old to do a lot of things. I’ll have to see what I’m made of, and risk being disappointed at what I see. Valerie Schultz

Comments

Anonymous | 5/29/2008 - 9:03pm
Go for it, Valerie. Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another. G.K. Chesterton
Anonymous | 5/30/2008 - 8:25pm
Since you're already experienced in prison ministry, I suspect the degree will be a breeze. With your experience you could practically teach the course, no? As for justifying the expense -- do you have a heart problem? Surely modern medicine can keep you alive long enough to make use of your degree. Good luck.