In February 2012, the sisters of the Titahi Bay Ward, in Porirua, enthusiastically turned out to enrol for “Celestial University”. Receiving a t-shirt upon registration, they signed up to earn a “Bachelor Degree” with the option to major in Religious Education, Business Management, Applied Art and Design, Health Education, Social Work, Food Technology or Textile and Design.
Each area of focus has around 20 assignments. To earn a Bachelor Degree, sisters must complete 8 goals in their chosen major, 5 in the College of Religious Education, and 1 from every other discipline. A major course requirement will be for the sister to present a project, or lead an activity based on what they have learned , to share with the other sisters in a Relief Society Meeting.
One of the organisers, Hayley Galo shared some memories. “I can still recall the spirit of unity, diligence, perseverance and an over whelming sense of accomplishment when as a young girl I saw sister after sister walk across the stage at our chapel with a blue sash on to receive diplomas in home making and other areas of learning”, she said. “Not really understanding what was going on at the time, the memory held strong to this day. Fast forward a few decades to our newly combined wards, and as the first counsellor in Relief Society I was in charge of these meetings. My first thoughts were yay, now it's my turn to walk across the stage and partake of the spirit of unity, accomplishment and perseverance. To strive for excellence in all areas of our lives.”
Kathryn Pierre, Second Counsellor in the Relief Society Presidency said “Our presentation was prayerfully and thoughtfully delivered by Hayley and the excitement in the room soon became very contagious. It felt amazing to be among the women as they discussed what their majors would be. I felt inspired by all the women as they chose majors and began to set goals about the many things they will accomplish this year. It is hard not to be enthused and inspired by diligent women setting righteous goals. Because of this inspired programme I have achieved a half marathon race!”
Her enthusiasm was echoed by the Titahi Bay Ward Relief Society President Melody Salmon, who said “One of the religious education goals in celestial university is to read a church book from cover to cover. As I read the biography of Emma Smith I was truly inspired and blessed to read of this elect women, it has not only strengthened my testimony but has inspired me to continue to read more inspirational books. Thank you Celestial University!”
The growth and development doesn't stop there, with the option for motivated sisters to go on to achieve their “Master's Degree” by completing extra assignments and goals.