Open Letter to LMU

I apologize in advanced for the long email... I wish I had been able to talk to you ahead of time.

With his Apostolic Letter - Porto Fidel, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI declared that a "Year of Faith" would begin on October 11, 2012. With this letter, B16 challenged Catholics to study and reflect on the many aspects of our Catholic faith, including the documents of Vatican II and the catechism.

When October 2012 rolled around, I distinctly remember asking myself the question, "How was I going to respond to this challenge?" At about this time my wife and I had just stepped down as Youth Ministers at Holy Family Catholic Church in Artesia. She was already busy continuing her faith formation through a book club she started with a few of her friends. I, on the other hand, had done nothing. Sure, I had attended various religious retreats and conferences, but nothing sparked. It wasn't until the following February at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, CA that something caught my eye.

Directly in the center of the convention center floor was a rather large booth, with the words Loyola Marymount University. Like the moment when Luke saw the image of Princess Leia appear out of R2-D2, LMU Bellarmine School of Liberal Arts - Department of Theology lured me in. It was as if I had found my "call to action." Luke had known in a split second that he had to help this Princess Leia… I, on the other hand steadily approached the LMU booth and signed up to attend an Open House. Needless to say, after evaluating several schools to pursue a Masters of Theology, I soon learned LMU would be the perfect match for me. Thankfully, they felt the same.

After six weeks into my first semester, I have now come to a crossroad in my life. I have come to learn how difficult it is to exercise the left side of my brain during the day at work and then completely switch to the right side of the brain to process what is needed for school. I have come to learn how difficult it is to attempt to learn something without being able to practice it in my daily life (it is quite difficult to incorporate the New Testament into the world of Software Engineering). I have come to learn how difficult it is to write research papers (with properly formatted bibliographies) when the last things I've written are: blog posts, functional design documents, and visio diagrams. This has all brought me to realize that if I want to be able to keep up with the many brilliant and insightful people around me at school, I needed to push myself harder and invest more time in my studies.

And that is where my dilemma time.

Three and a half years ago, my wife was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Since that time, we have been fighting to overcome infertility in hopes of conceiving a child. My wife has gone through two surgeries, several different prescriptions, and countless trips to our OB (who is 2 hours away from our house). We have come to a point where we and our doctor think we have found something that works. We see signs of ovulation and it seems it's only a matter of time till we are able to conceive. But that's just's only a matter of time.

I cannot sacrifice any time from work because well, work is work. It's my current career track and it's something I love to do. I received a blessing from my manager and director to pursue Grad School because I guaranteed them that it would not affect my performance at work.

So that lead me to a big question...where do I find this extra time for school?

I cannot borrow time from work.
I cannot borrow time from my wife.
I cannot get my hands on a time turner (a la Hermione Granger).

Since I had no real resolution to that question, I had to ask myself a different question. This was a question that has been asked of me ever since I enrolled at LMU. Where do i see myself in 3 years after I finish grad school? In regards to my career and how I would apply my new degree...I had no answer. What I do know, is that in 3 years, I do want to be celebrating Father's Day with my own children.

Therefore, I have decided that I will be withdrawing from enrollment at LMU.

This isn't a goodbye, but more of a see you later. A Masters of Theology is still a personal goal of mine, but I must set priorities first. Time is slowly going against me and my wife, so we must take full advantage of the time we have now. School will always be there, but the opportunity to have kids naturally will not be.

Thank you Professor Daniel for opening my eyes to the world of Post Colonial Theology and the many other countless other disciplines within Theology. As the new Chair of Graduate Studies in Theology, I was very honored to have you as my conductor on this journey into the world of Theology. I really do hope we cross paths again, perhaps when I am able to re-enroll at LMU. I pray that you are able to use the many talents God has given you to guide the many graduate students.

Thank you Professor Siker for sharing your passion for the synoptic analysis. You have given me a new outlook on the Bible and several tools for analyzing it (I can't wait to start doing synoptic analysis with my friends). You truly have a way of infecting your students with your passion for theology. LMU is blessed to have you and your husband guiding the minds of their students.

God Bless,
Mark Anthony de Jesus



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