In recognition of his educational achievements, leadership skills and “sincere heart to serve,” Gerald Streff was named the “Outstanding Graduate” in Chaminade University’s Master of Pastoral Theology program.
Streff and five other students graduated from the program this spring.
Streff, who retired in 2012 after a 39-year career with the U.S. Air Force, will use his academic training to launch an end-of-life spiritual care volunteer program at the Saint Jude Makakilo parish. His initiative addresses growing concerns about caring for seniors in Hawaii, which has one of the highest percentages of elderly residents in America.
“Gary’s academic acumen, his generous desire both to help develop an end-of-life ministry program for the people of his parish, and to serve to emerging concerns of the larger professional health care community of Hawaii have more than qualified him for the graduate award,” according to Father Paul Fitzpatrick, SM, director of the pastoral program.
Streff says Father Paul’s mentorship, friendship and method of teaching “opened me up to God in a way that no one else has ever done.”
“It was Father Paul’s constant challenges that made the Bible and other sacred writings come alive and relevant,” according to Streff. “His personal dedication to God, the Catholic Church and the fulfillment of his Marian mission were very inspirational.”
And although Streff says he “thoroughly enjoyed his military career and its challenges,” now he’s finding pastoral work “much more fulfilling and definitely worth it.”
Chaminade’s Master of Pastoral Theology program is part of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts. Specialized certificate programs are offered in Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction and in Permanent Diaconate Education to prepare for ordination as a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church.