Articles From the January 1993 Unification News


Former Missionary Finds UTS Provides Essential Skills, Broadens Faith

Unification Theological Seminary: Personal Testimony
Seminary Seen as Way to Break Through in U.S.
by Michael Kiely

As True Father looks to American members to shoulder increasing responsibility in the United States, the Unification Theological Seminary offers training in the essentail leadership skills and in-depth understanding of The Divine Principle to fulfill that trust. A former missionary and 1800 couple shares his life-transforming experience at the Seminary.

Maria and I recently had to make a tough family decision. We were at a crossroads in our spiritual and professional life and had to decide: should we continue in the news media, go to Home Town in California, or move overseas, say, to Russia? I had worked at the New York City Tribune for ten years before it closed, but there were no appropriate openings for me in UC media. Because we had been missionaries in Africa for seven years and had worked recently in both the CIS and Kenya, an overseas mission, perhaps in the CIS, was a serious option for us. But because True Father had repeatedly urged us all to go to Home Town, that was our most attractive alternative.

Our last and most unlikely option was that I attend UTS "unlikely" because at my age (then 47) I thought I should be actively bearing fruit for the providence, not studying. Also, I knew the rumors about students losing their faith at UTS and about others, as one leader put it, "becoming intellectually strong and spiritually weak." I had heard that there was "too much freedom" at UTS and that UTS graduates were arrogant, couldn't teach the DP and didn't unite with their CFs. These criticisms made us cautious until my spiritual father, himself a graduate, encouraged me to take the UTS possibility seriously. "You will still have plenty of years to bear fruit," he told me, "and your fruit will be more abundant." He said his UTS experience had helped him substantially as the head of one of Father's major organizations.

In the end we did take him seriously, and I have just completed my first term at UTS. The price has been high Maria is working full time for an autocratic and insensitive lawyer to support our family; our three children are "latch key kids," coming home from school each afternoon to an empty house; my family and I are separated five days a week, and we need to deal with some $7,900 a year in UTS tuition and expenses (partly through a non-UC scholarship) beyond our family expenses. But my experience at UTS so far is, we believe, making the sacrifice worthwhile and has put to rest all those rumors that had made us hesitate initially.

Perhaps most importantly, UTS has proved an inspiring place to pray, possibly because Father himself used to visit the campus almost daily to pray, make fishnets and create a foundation for UTS to train future leaders. I take long walks to pray and meditate along the back road out to the fields where True Family love to hike. Or meander along the gravel road lined with gnarled trees out toward the old wood barn beside the red-brick silo. Or traverse a green mowed field toward Father's trail that winds down among the trees to the lagoon. Or pray early in the morning in the high-roofed chapel lined with European stained-glass scenes of the lives of Jesus and St. Jean-Baptiste de La Salle. Heaven seems to come down close at these moments, and, frankly, the tears often flow. The only other places I've felt this way are Belvedere, East Garden and the holy ground in our mission country.

Far from being a dry, intellectual experience, I am discovering that the heart of God is not only waiting for me on the front line, but in my books and in deep discussions about the ideas we at UTS are absorbing. I am being shown that behind each drop of blood True Parents shed to bring us the Principle is a history of suffering and yearning for God. St. Justin de Martyr longing for martyrdom in order to be one with Jesus. St. Patrick returning to bring the Gospel to the bitter land where he once was enslaved. St. Maximus the Confessor choosing to have his tongue ripped out and his right hand severed rather than compromise his faith. Behind each new idea I sense there is a soul searching at its limits to know God. For Jeremiah, God's word was "a fire shut up in my bones" that drove him to witness in spite of himself.

It is evident to me that these people didn't simply address their ages eloquently and die. What they said and wrote is speaking down the centuries to me about MY providential work and driving me out to MY front line. I have struggled to live and teach the Principle for years, but UTS is broadening and deepening my understanding of it and guiding me to experience the heart with which it came to me. During the next two or three years while I will always sense a measure of impatience to be getting on about my providential work, I can't help feeling that what is happening here to me is good and right for me at this time.

It is true, there is freedom here, enough freedom for us to begin to take responsibility for our faith and make it our own, enough to attend not simply in obedience to a CF but out of an illuminated and expanding heart which, like Jeremiah, responds of its very "fire" by expressing the truth. Of course, with that freedom comes a risk a necessary one I think that some seed planted in shallow soil will wither and die here. Some will turn that freedom into license and abuse it in arrogance or any other vice. I confess the temptation is also real for me. In fact, how easy it is to become arrogant with the knowledge and ability we are acquiring here.

In specific ways, I am blossoming. I throw myself into each activity with abandon, joining the Junior debate team (we lost in the finals, but we gave them a run for their money!), speaking up in class even when I don't know the answer ("fool for God"), looking for every opportunity to practice expressing the new knowledge I am acquiring. I will certainly enter the speech and the DP lecture contests this winter and jump into any other experience that pushes me to the limits of my creativity and expression. Such opportunities abound here. Even at meal time around the large round tables in the dining hall there are often spontaneous, animated discussions about some idea or issue, and I dive right into them. At UTS I am discovering new personal abilities I had never sensed and delighting in the experience of my mind becoming keener and more creative. There is a thrill in generating new ideas, bouncing them off others, developing them and expressing them, say, in a term paper or oral presentation.

And those around me experiencing the same thing themselves, support that process in me (and I in them). So, we are a community of mutual learning, growing, stretching ourselves and each other beyond our old limits, and of becoming solid members who can speak to outside VIPs on their own level and represent Father with competence, dignity and, yes, power and, of course, love. It is like giving birth to a new self. One can see that the seniors (2nd year) and Divinity Seniors (third year) are further along in that birthing process than we juniors (first year) are. They express themselves more articulately and with more confidence. They often seem to know more about True Family, True Parents and the providence than we do. One can also sense in many of them a real dedication to our True Parents that is an example for us. It is clear to me that the UTS experience has made a powerful and good difference in their lives.

It is true that this new knowledge and ability can lead to arrogance and independence if I ignore its source. Also, a creative and expressive mind may seem and may actually be threatening to a CF who has not had the UTS experience. The risk is that I may forget that what I am becoming is not from me but from heaven and that I am simply the soil True Parents are planting and cultivating good seed in. I may forget to be grateful for the foundation our TP have laid here, for the two-thirds of my tuition others pay for me with considerable perspiration, for the professors and staff working at sacrificial salaries they need to supplement by fund raising so that I may thrive here.

But it is precisely in grappling with temptations like arrogance in an atmosphere of freedom that my faith may become my own and not simply that of my CF and that I come to attend not out of servility but with "fire" in my bones and heart. Such temptations allow me to work at undoing Eve's and Adam's abuse of freedom and to take increasing responsibility for my faith and mission. I see such risk as inevitable and potentially growthful on the road from servanthood to sonhood or daughterhood. UTS provides the freedom and support I need to confront these temptations.

After some twenty years in the providential trenches I find the rich intellectual and spiritual soil at UTS, the academic freedom, the solid indemnity foundation that brings heaven down close, and the sheer and abundant beauty outside the Seminary buildings are like a womb that is gestating a new Michael, son-to-be of True Parents. I feel that UTS is opening the doors of a future for me rich in vision and more competent filial attendance.

My regret is that I did not know earlier TF's clear and repeated direction that all members attend UTS and that I waited till now to enroll. My prayer is that others will let no obstacle prevent them from acquiring the "pearl of great value" that is waiting for us all in Barrytown.

Michael & Maria Kiely are an international 1800 couple and former foreign missionaries in Africa where their three children were born. Michael worked with the New York City Tribune for 14 years, was chairman of the board of a private school in Manhattan and Chairman of the 1800 Blessed Family Association. Maria works full-time in Manhattan to support their family and Michael's attendance at UTS and is actively involved in the Women's Federation for World Peace. The Kiely's live in Chestnut Ridge, NY, where Inmay, 15, Yung, 14, and Kotun, 12, attend school.

If you are interested in attending UTS, please contact: Admissions Office, UTS, 10 Dock Road, Barrytown NY 12507. Phone (914) 758-6881 exts. 291-3; fax (914) 758-2156. If you have not yet got a college degree, this office also has information on the Pre-Seminary Program.


Download entire page and pages related to it in ZIP format
Table of Contents
Copyright Information
Tparents Home