Local laywomen discover how theological education transforms their ministry

When Cheryl Unruh took her first graduate-level class, “Foundations of Theology,” at St. Mark’s College, she discovered a classroom environment that was friendly, collaborative and joyful (three words that also describe the course instructor, Dr. Nick Olkovich).

“Who knew theology could be so much fun?”

More than “fun,” however, Cheryl also discovered learning about theology was energizing and transformative, giving her a greater understanding of and appreciation for her Catholic faith. “The confidence that comes from this wisdom brings a new joy to my ministry and affects how I pass on my faith – and the love of my faith – to others.”

The RCIA Coordinator at St. Nicholas Parish, Cheryl is one of 11 recipients of the new Formation for Lay Ministry Scholarship at St. Mark’s College, which was awarded for the first time in the Winter 2022 term. Providing funding for foundational coursework, the scholarship supports the integral and important work of local lay ministry leaders within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver (RCAV). The first cohort of scholarship recipients is actively involved in a variety of ministries, including Catholic Christian Outreach, Couples for Christ, healing ministry, parish renewal and women’s ministry.

Recipient Eleanor Wong also says that studying theology has made her understand and appreciate Church teachings in a new way, which in turn makes an impact in her work as Youth Ministry Coordinator at St. Matthew’s Parish.

“This love and new knowledge has inspired me to incorporate a renewed theological lens into discussions and sessions I have with the youth,” she says, “which allows them to encounter faith in a more holistic and enriched way.”

As they continue to learn and integrate knowledge with their ministry, the scholarship recipients are models of what Pope Francis called for in 2016: “laypeople who are formed well, animated by a clear and sincere faith.” Through their education, they are not only growing in their own faith but also inspiring those in their communities to do so, as well.



We are now accepting applications for the next round of Formation for Lay Ministry Scholarships.

Apply by April 30!


This story originally appeared in 2021-22: A Year in Review, the annual College newsletter. Since its publication, we are thrilled to have awarded an additional four Formation for Lay Ministry scholarships to students in St. Mark's College graduate programs.

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