February 13th, 2011
06:00 AM ET
In the 2002 film, “The Rookie,” actor Dennis Quaid plays a middle-aged high school baseball coach who tries out for a major league baseball team.
The movie’s plot line is now being replicated at the nation’s seminaries. A growing number of baby boomers are entering seminaries to take their last shot at fulfilling a lifelong dream, a recent article suggests.
Melba Newsome says in a Time magazine article that the nation’s seminaries are enjoying a baby boomers boom - the 50-or-older demographic group is the fastest-growing demographic at U.S. divinity schools, according to the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).
Seminaries tend to be dominated by the under-30 crowd, but the baby boomer group has surged from 12 percent of all seminary students in 1995 to 20 percent in 2009, according to the Association of Theological Schools, Newsome said.
Some of the boomers decided to enter the ministry after being laid off or stalling in their careers, but some of their decisions go deeper Newsome said.
They include students include Patrice Fike, 64, who is using $100,000 of her savings from her career in pediatric nursing to enroll at the Episcopal Church’s General Theological Seminary in New York City, Newsome writes.
Fike said she was surprised to see so many seminary students who were her age.
The article said that many of the boomer seminarians thought of entering the ministry when they were young, but career, family and mortgages got in the way.
But, like Quaid’s character in “The Rookie,” they didn’t want to keep living with regret.
Fike told Newsome:
The article brought a question to my mind, though. In athletics, age is a liability. Older athletes lose strength and flexibility.
But could old age equip people to be better ministers?
For example, how can a young minister who has never been married or had children or even lost many friends to death counsel grieving couples?
And might an older minister do better at dealing with the temptations of ego, sex, and money?
Is it better to be a rookie minister when you have gray hair?
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