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CHURCHES PLAN 'UNIVERSITY' PROGRAM WILL OFFER OVER 60 CLASSES.

Byline: Holly J. Andres Staff Writer

With the approach of Lent - a traditional time for spiritual and personal growth - seven Roman Catholic parishes in Ventura County are joining together to offer the opportunity to make positive changes in people's lives.

``The University'' is an adult education program offering more than 60 classes in morality, ethics, marriage and family, contemporary Christian issues, prayer, church history and social justice. Sessions begin Feb. 10 - the day after the beginning of Lent.

``Faith follows you everywhere - it's not just for Sunday. Lent is a good time for improving yourself and getting closer to God,'' said Grace Casas-Kolodin, the volunteer director at St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Westlake Village.

```The University' is going to be a wonderful opportunity to meet people and ask questions of people you wouldn't normally meet. It's going to be really fun and exciting.''

Most classes will be held 7:30-9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, taught by clergy and lay leaders and held at the one of seven participating parishes. For the first time in its four-year history, the program will include a few classes in Spanish.

Participants do not need to be Catholic - or even Christian - to attend, organizers say.

Scheduled speakers include Cardinal Roger Mahony, who will talk on who the next pope might be; Bishop Thomas Curry of the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region, who will talk about separation of church and state; and Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest who founded Home-Boy Industries: Jobs for a Future.

There also will be a lecture on ``The Da Vinci Code''; a marital ``fitness'' class; an interfaith panel discussion; prayer and walking a labyrinth; and a celebration of Irish saints that will be offered on St. Patrick's Day.

``I think the classes are for people who have an interest in growing their faith at this point in their life or for the devout Catholic group who think that their faith is the most beautiful thing in their life, as I do,'' said Steve Jones, coordinator for the classes to be held at his parish, St. Paschal Baylon in Thousand Oaks.

The fee is $5 per class in advance or $7 at the door, and includes an option to bring a friend at no extra charge. Light refreshments will be served, and four free concerts are scheduled.

``People have made instant friends standing in a line,'' joked Beverly Bryde, the director of ``The University'' who will present a discussion on Christianity and coaching sports on March 1.

``We do so much in isolation. This is inspiring adults to come out and learn more about their faith in a community - not in isolation reading a book on a topic - and to have the opportunity to question what we believe.''

``The University'' will run from Feb. 10-March 17. Pre-registration ends Jan. 31, which also is the deadline for buying a $60 pass that is good for all classes. A catalog of courses is available at participating parishes: St. Paschal Baylon in Thousand Oaks, (805) 496-0222; St. Maximilian Kolbe in Westlake Village, (818) 991-3915; St. Jude the Apostle in Westlake Village, (818) 889-1279; St. Julie Billiart in Newbury Park, (805) 498-3602; St. Mary Magdalen in Camarillo, (805) 484-0532; Holy Cross in Moorpark, (805) 529-1397; and St. Rose of Lima in Simi Valley, (805) 526-1732.

Holly Andres, (818) 713-3708

holly.andres(at)dailynews.com

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Grace Casas-Kolodin, Beverly Bride, Anna Gallotta, Wendy Gigliotti and Steve Jones, from left, are on the planning committee for ``The University,'' a Catholic adult education program.

Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 22, 2005
Words:594
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