It is never too late to study — this could be a saying applied to Akaroa’s parish priest Fr Paul Shannahan, SM.
Fr Shannahan, 82, a former director of the Catholic Enquiry Centre and national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, graduated last month with a Bachelor of Theology degree after completed distance studies through Good Shepherd College.

The priest did one paper each semester for the past four years in the largely tourist parish of Akaroa. He said he found the study “refreshing and fulfilling”.

He felt the need for professional updating and by enrolling at Good Shepherd College he committed himself to meet deadlines in Scripture and Theology papers.

“I learned about a number of issues, and became aware of other issues,” Fr Shannahan said.

“My studies helped put things in greater context. An example was in learning so much of the theological struggles that confronted the Church fathers.”

He said studying by himself in distance learning was “a bit of a lonely thing”, as he didn’t have fellow students with which to speak. But he found he could make the time to read, reflect and digest.

Fr Shannahan received credits towards his degree from his philosophy studies in the seminary at Greenmeadows and some papers he did at Victoria University of Wellington after ordination.

He read a passage from John’s Gospel at the degree conferral ceremony at the St Columba Centre in Ponsonby on June 9. One of the sayings by Jesus in that passage from John 10 was “I came that they might have life and have it to the full”.

Now it is back to working on the restoration project for the church at Akaroa for Fr Shannahan.