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Sister Certified as Spiritual Leader
Photo: Sr. Paula Jean Miller, FSESister Paula Jean Miller, FSE, founder and director of Catholic Studies and professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas, has received certification as a Spiritual Leader of Pilgrimages from The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, through the Episcopal Commission of Christian Pilgrimages. This certification will allow her to act as a spiritual guide for UST Study Abroad and other pilgrim groups. Sister Paula Jean, a Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist, has shepherded groups from St. Thomas to Italy and the Holy Land in the past.

Spiritual leaders are primarily concerned about the spiritual and pastoral aspects of the pilgrimage by connecting the experience of the pilgrims in the Holy Land with their life of faith and prayer. The certification process has been intensified over the past several years by both the Israeli Government and the Bishops of the Holy Land.

Photo: Sr. Paula Jean Miller, FSE and students hiking to the top of Mt. Tabor “This is due, in large part, to the problem of guides with inadequate or distorted knowledge of the holy places, Jewish and Christian, leading groups just for financial compensation,” Sister Paula Jean said. “This has led the Israeli government and the Bishops of the Christian Churches to specify stringent requirements of spiritual guides. For example, besides the lengthy application form, one must have a doctorate in theology, provide transcripts for every theological and scriptural course ever taken, personal and professional letters of recommendation, detailed itineraries from at least two guided pilgrimages, and participate in a course for certification.”

Because Sister Paula Jean has lived in and been a guide in the Holy Land, she was exempt from the certification training course.

Other qualifications for the certification include a vibrant spiritual life, exemplary moral conduct and a good knowledge of the geography, archeology, and ancient and modern history of the Holy Land.

 “It is a very rigorous process, but it is there to safeguard pilgrims, both financially and spiritually, so it's a very good thing,” Sister Paula Jean said.

Photo: Sr Paula Jean Miller on board the Jesus Boat on the Sea of GalileeSister Paula Jean will be taking a group of 19 Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist to the Holy Land in December. Following her trip, she would like to resume UST Study Abroad Pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Those interested can contact Sister Paula Jean at with their name, phone number and email address. Courses Theology 1300 and 2300 are required for participation in the upper division theology course offered in the Holy Land.

For information on other places to study abroad, the Study Abroad Program  will have an information meeting at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28 in the Ahern Room, Crooker Center. Learn more about trips to Ireland, Greece and the Czech Republic.

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