As a result of a donation from an anonymous benefactor, immigrant priests from the Diocese of Paterson have been provided with a pathway for perfecting their English language skills through a program offered at County College of Morris (CCM) in Morristown.
The Paterson Diocese Professional Development Program is an eight-week course for newly arrived immigrant clergymen, many with advanced degrees, who have already learned English as their second language but wish to polish their oral communication skills. The goal of the program is to help priests from the Diocese of Paterson communicate more clearly with their parishioners by improving their English pronunciation and public speaking delivery styles.
Through the program, the priests have the opportunity to work on intonation, stress, connectedness, phrasing and speaking rate as well as American English sounds and spelling patterns. The course includes the technical part of English pronunciation, but also provides individualized public speaking training to help the priests with presenting their weekly homilies. The priests are filmed, critiqued and provided with the footage on a flash drive so they can review where improvement might be needed.
A crucial part of the program is the communal and safe atmosphere the class offers. It also provides the priests with the opportunity to meet other clergymen who are in situations similar to their own. The priests arrive from different parts of the world, but most come from Columbia and Poland.
Charles Lamb, director of operations at CCM’s Morristown location at 30 Schuyler Place, notes that the city, being easily accessible by public transportation, is an ideal location for the program which serves priests throughout the Diocese of Paterson. Several of the priests also serve congregations in Morris County in such towns as Rockaway, Dover, Madison, Succasunna and Chester.
“The Paterson Diocese Professional Development Program does not attempt to Americanize the priests, in fact quite the contrary,” says Lamb. “The program recognizes and embraces the richness of their cultural diversity and attempts to associate it to American social norms, customs and habits, resulting in the priests and their parishes making a deeper connection with one another and the communities they serve.”
Photo: Stock photo provided courtesy of County College of Morris.