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Editor's Note: This article is part of an online symposium, "Does Seminary Have a Future?" hosted at Patheos this month. Read other Catholic perspectives here.

I'm a stay-at-home mother of seven pursuing a M.A. in Theology because I became concerned about the Catholic identity in our schools and hospitals. Credentials give weight to involvement with such institutions, and the studies improve communication and writing skills.

It was impossible for me to "go to college," so distance learning was appealing. In discernment, I enrolled in the first theology course, Philosophy for Theologians, at the Holy Apostles College and Seminary. I learned more about philosophy than I ever learned earning a Ph.D. in science at a secular institution. I learned what a classic liberal arts education actually is supposed to be, and I learned about the history of the divorce between faith and science.

I'm half-finished with the program now, and it has continued to be a powerful experience—one accomplished while I remained home to care for our large family. The online assignments are organized by professors who instruct by email; and lay, religious, and ordained faithful students are integrated in the courses, exchanging ideas through unique software. The desire for such instruction is growing, and I hope we will see more seminaries extend themselves in this way to someday produce a network of lay theologians helping to guard and progress authentic Catholic institutions.