All Posts By

Shelley Perry

Egypt, Jordan & Israel Update

By Israel, The Bible Lands No Comments


As many of you already know, SSU’s Ministry Program is off to Egypt, Jordan & Israel in March, 2012!  The ministry program is delivered in four 2-week modules (intensive classes), one of which includes a study abroad component.

While students are first in line for spots on the trip, we happily welcome others who are interested in taking the trip either for pleasure of for university credit.  To learn more about this great 2 week trip that will take in everything from Egyptian Pyramids to the Jordan River, Bethlehem and much more, check out the full itinerary HERE

Since space is limited and interest is high it’s important that we establish a firm list of those who are committed to being on the trip. If you haven’t already done so and want to participate, please verify your spot ASAP by contacting Lorna Jones at [email protected]  or call her at 1-506-466-1781.  Please note that payments for the March 2012 module (the trip) are due in November and December, 2011 (see schedule below).

  The total cost for this travel module is $4200 CAD.


  • round trip air from Boston, MA (without flight the cost is $3100)
  • 13 nights lodging at 1st class hotels
  • breakfast and dinner daily, 1 lunch in Israel
  • full time English speaking tour guides in Egypt, Jordan and Israel
  • services of long distance deluxe motorcoach
  • all guides, entrances and transportation as appear on itinerary
  • Israel border taxes
  • tips to drivers and guides
  • SSU admin fee (tuition included – same price for all, student or not


  • Now: $100 CDN to secure your seat
  • November 4, 2011:  $1000 CDN – non-refundable, completed reservation form and a copy of the picture page of your passport. Passport must be valid until September, 2012
  • December 16, 2011: final payment due


  • You will need to buy your lunches every day except for one day in Israel. We usually stop at interesting local places to eat during the day’s activities. You will also be responsible for any tipping apart from the guides and drivers. It is recommended to leave the equivalent of $2/night in each hotel room for the cleaning staff.
  • You will be responsible for paying the border taxes when entering both Egypt and Jordan (currently around $46).
  • Travel Insurance–you may wish to purchase this through Pilgrim Tours.  The cost would be approximately $230 CDN (to be paid with November payment) and would include trip cancellation, trip interruption and travel medical. We do insist that you have some form of travel medical insurance. You can also purchase this from your local insurance agent if needed.


  • For those who are travelling as SSU ministry students must do the trip for 6 credit hours (2 courses) and will have already have received your readings and assignments for this.
  • Those not in the Master of Ministry program but wanting undergraduate credit may do readings and assignments for 3 credit hours  (1 course) for no additional charge. To take it as a 6 credit hour class will require the additional charge of a full course at SSU ($1013). To register or for any additional question regarding readings, assignment and credit email Peter Fitch at [email protected]
  • For those not going for credit but still interested in some extra reading, email Peter for this information.
We look forward to keeping everyone up-to-date on our travels as we explore the rich historical and spiritual culture of the middle east together!







A Celtic Pilgrimage

By 2012 - Scotland, All Things Travel, Alumni Abroad No Comments

We’re on our way to Scotland (April 29th, 2012)! The countdown is on and if you’re interested then you can find the full itinerary and more information online here.  This is a really great opportunity to experience study abroad SSU style, whether you’re a student or not!

Now to answer some of your frequently asked questions…

What is the exact cost and what does that include?
The total price is $3699.00 and includes round trip airfare from Saint John, NB, accommodations (double occupancy), transportation around Scotland (luxury motor coach), breakfasts and dinners (lunches not included), guides and admission to all sites mentioned on itinerary.

Can I make payments or is it all due at once?
Yes you can! While the final amount is due by Feb. 17th, 2012, you can set up a payment schedule with Freedom Tours. Bi-weekly payments can make it easier.

Is this an SSU trip or Freedom Tours?
SSU has contracted Freedom Tours to take care of most of the logistics, but SSU’s Dean of Arts (Gregg Finley, PhD) is the trip leader. Payments are made to Freedom Tours who are working closely with SSU to be sure the execution of this trip is just how we want it.  We use a similar process for our Greece & Turkey trip as well as our Israel trip.

How does this “for credit” thing work?
If you are interested in doing this as a 3-credit hour course, then you will receive a syllabus with preliminary readings and assignments. This will all be under Gregg Finley’s instruction and there is no extra charge.  To take the trip for academic credit, please send an email to [email protected], or visit our facebook page and share your interest.

What about travel insurance?
This is not included in the price but HIGHLY recommended. It can be arranged by Freedom Tours for anyone interested at the time of booking.

When and how can I reserve a spot?
Call 1-800-61-2324 to pay your $300 deposit to reserve your place as soon as possible. Space is limited!



We’re Going to Scotland! Wanna Come?

By 2012 - Scotland, All Things Travel, Alumni Abroad, Europe No Comments

Springtime in Scotland: A Celtic Pilgrimage

SSU is proud to announce our upcoming study trip to Scotland! Students, alumni, and friends are invited to participate in this 9-day trip throughout the lowlands and highlands of the Scotland.

Mark your calendars and book your time off and embark on this journey with our fearless leader and Celtic saint, Gregg Finley!  Here are some preliminary details, but stay tuned for a detailed itinerary and instructions on saving your spot!

WHEN–April 29th-May6th, 2012
WHERE–All over Scotland, from Glasgow to Iona, Skye, Inverness, Edinburgh and more!
WHAT--Historical sites like Culloden, and Holy Isles  like Iona & Skye and yes even a few Scotch Whiskey distilleries.
HOW–Travel by luxury motor coach and sleep in tourist class hotels (no camping on this trip!)
COST–The price will vary slightly depending on the final number of people, but expect it to be around $3500 per person. This will include everything except your lunches.
CAN I GET UNIVERSITY CREDIT?– Yes, this trip is a 3-credit hour course with readings and assignments for anyone who would like to take it for undergraduate credit.

“The tourist goes to see and collect (memories and mementos); the pilgrim goes to be changed.”    Daniel Taylor, In Search of Sacred Places: Looking for Wisdom on Celtic Holy Islands


SSU Goes to Israel!

By Israel No Comments

SSU is happy to announce the study abroad trip to Israel, Egypt and Jordan in March 2012. Like all of our programs, our Master of Ministry by module includes a study abroad component, typically spent “exploring the biblical lands.”

This 15-day trip will be starting in Cairo, Egypt and following the Exodus route to Israel, stopping to visit the pyramids and the mountain fortress of Petra en route! The itinerary in Israel is very extensive!  Qualified guides travel with the group at all times and they will also get the benefit of teaching from both SSU students and faculty. No doubt this will be a wonderful communitybuilding experience.

This will be the third time that Peter and Mary Ellen Fitch have been to Israel but their first time experiencing Egypt and Jordan. They have led 4 SSU trips to Greece and Turkey.

Stay tuned for more updates as the trip draws closer!

This is Why…

By 2010, Asia No Comments

Hardly  two months has past and SSU is back on the road.  This time, to South East Asia.  On Thanksgiving Monday the staff, faculty, and half the student body said goodbye to our second and third-year classes.  As part of their BA program they spend 8 weeks abroad in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand–with a brief pit stop in Hong Kong.

The weeks leading up to the trip are possibly the most energy-filled times at Park Hall.  Students spend four weeks on campus before they leave taking intensive classes in World Religions, Cultural Anthropology, and the history of South East Asia, all the while scrambling to get their assignments, readings, and socializing in before they leave.  Those who are staying behind and participating in the rigors of traditional university life share in the energy of their friends’ upcoming experience.  The fourth-year class, having “been-there-done-that,” recalls their adventures with home-stay families, lectures in North Western or Chaing Mai University, their favorite foods, and their most memorable cultural encounters. They all wish they were going again. Meanwhile the first-year class waits in anticipation for their turn with a mixture of anxiety and excitement. They observe the stress of late-night paper writing, last minute packing and intense emotions that accompany the pre-trip intensives like a curious visitor at the city zoo.

As a staff member it is  rewarding to watch this cycle. Students prepare, leave and then return a more confident version of themselves. They are compassionate towards one another; they are passionate about social justice; they are informed and engaged on a global scale; and most of all they are intelligent, thoughtful, active citizens of our school, our town and our country.  Come graduation we (the staff & faculty) will all say at one point or another, “this is why we do it.”

So this past Monday we all bid our dear friends goodbye as they boarded an SMT bus outside of Park Hall. Some shed tears while saying goodbye to good friends, boyfriends or parents, but those of us who have experienced The Cycle before waived with great excitement at the uneasy faces peering out the bus windows. We know how it all turns out.  Shelley Kadatz, our travel coordinator, looked around at the bus and all the people who had come to see them off, and hi-fived me.  She, and all the staff, have been working tirelessly over the past few weeks to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch.  A huge cheer left her mouth as the bus pulled out of the parking lot, down Main Street and on to the Saint John airport.  With a huge smile, she looked at me and said, “this is why we do it.”

Stay tuned for more updates from our South East Asia travelers…

Some Visual Highlights…

By 2010, Europe No Comments

For those of you who want some visual highlights to go along with these blog entries…here are just a few memorable moments!

Visiting Montserrat monastery in Spain

on the beach in Barcelona

Laura and Ariel at the Amphitheater in Arles

Hudson take a leap in front of the Roman Aqueduct (Pont du Gard)

Isaac hard at work, Vatican City, Italy

Medieval Walled City of Carcasonne

Margaret in Venice, Italy

Leaders take a break for some coffee in Vienna

Katie, Lois, and Cara explore the Swiss Alps

Some choose to explore the city of Zurich by bicycle

Julia, Margaret, Brianna, and Kristel at the Eiffel Tower

Brianna and Margaret pose in front of the Louvre in Paris

At Vimy Ridge, France, learning about Canada's role in WWI

Dave LOVES Bruges, Belgium

Some spent an evening in London taking in a show

Lucas in London!

And This is my Joy…

By 2010, Europe No Comments

We’re approaching two weeks on the road in Western Europe, but in many ways it feels like we’ve been doing this forever: setting up camp, cooking on gas stoves, fighting over electrical outlets to charge our iPods, and navigating strange cities by bus and foot.  Some of you may be wondering what exactly happens here on these SSU study abroad terms. Our days begin early and are full to the brim with experience. We rise together, eat together, sleep within feet of one another in our tents, and, of course, adventure together. So far we have dipped our feet into two countries: Spain and France.  Barcelona had us comparing Antoine Gaudi’s elaborate, albeit unfinished, Sagrada Familia in all its Art Nouveau charm, with the Barcelona Cathedral, towering over the city in all its strong gothic glory. Two places of worship, two very different experiences.

We have been moved, disgusted, and confused by the art of Dali and Picasso, and awestruck by the illustrious confidence and romance of the walled medieval city of Carcasonne.  Some swam in the cool, refreshing water of the River Gard while simultaneously examining the Roman aqueduct (Pont du Gard) built in the first century; others have sipped espresso and practiced their French or Spanish in tiny cafés set on cobblestones streets.  All of our experiences are collective, and yet they are all different; as individual and as far removed as the east from the west, yet shared within the context of an imperfectly beautiful travelling community.

And this is my joy. As a leader I get to hear thirty-two different views on each cultural, personal, and academic encounter; I get to wake up to the sound of laughter or singing in a nearby tent; I am there for the screams of horror as the girls find “squatty potties” in the French bathroom stalls in one moment, and in another have the privilege of sharing tears with a heartbroken, frustrated, homesick, or overwhelmed student. This isn’t even to mention the walks on the beach, conversations on the bus, games at the campground, prayers whispered together in tents, and the knowing looks and wordless exchanges that come with a shared secret, humorous anecdote, or an unexpected sacred moment.  I am experiencing Europe through thirty-two very different sets of eyes, and to be honest, I am becoming quite fond of it.

Tangible Moments in Time…

By Alumni Abroad No Comments
Cahir Castle (County Tipperary)

Cahir Castle (County Tipperary)

The view from St. Canice's tower (Kilkenny)

The view from St. Canice's tower (Kilkenny)

The Seven Towers of Kells, monastic ruins (county Kilkenny)

The Seven Towers of Kells, monastic ruins (county Kilkenny)

Where do I begin? I have done and seen so much the past three weeks it is hard to decide what to share.  After Dublin I arrived in Kilkenny which has acted as a home base for me during my time in Ireland, staying in a quaint cottage with friends of friends who have taken in a poor Canadian traveller with open arms! Kilkenny is the county of medieval walls, castles, cathedrals…and beer (the home of Smithwicks, Bulmers and of course Kilkenny)!  Ancient ruins are common place, with eleventh century monastic ruins, castles, and cathedrals sitting confidently among nineteenth century famine workhouses and mills. Throw in some SUVs, highways, and shopping malls and it’s truly a confusion of eras!

But staying with locals, I have learned, is the primary way to ensure an authentic Irish experience. My hosts have taken me all over Kilkenny and beyond to experience all the wonders of the area–from exploring castles to exploring caves!  Some of my favorite spots have been those off the beaten track and not yet valued by Tourism himself.  For example, the town of Kells is home to a very large monastic ruin known as “The Seven Towers of Kells,”  nestled along the county’s  rolling hills beside the south bank of the King’s river.  This thirteenth century monastic community was the centre of a Norman town and is currently passed over by tourists.  In fact, we may have passed only four or fiver other people as we walked freely around the ruins! In a country where at times tourists threatened to outnumber locals, this is astonishing indeed! It was a serene experience as there is something inexpressibly profound about grazing your hand along the same stones in the way that someone might have done 800 years before you!  It is perhaps one of the only thing that has the ability to make time tangible.

Other highlights of my time in Kilkenny include the Cahir Castle (1142), which unlike the Kilkenny castle has not been “restored”  but left in its ruined form for tourist to explore its watch towers,  intricate stairwells and courtyards; the Dunmore Caves (a hiding place from viking invasions); and St. Canice’s Cathedral in Kilkenny city (where I accidentally dropped my camera down the 9th century tower!).  I have also had the privilege of seeing what has become my favorite church; a church which is so tiny it would be full with just fifty people!  What I found so remarkable about the church is that it is hidden very well down below the country road among naturally beautiful,  lush greenery. In fact it is so well hidden that Cromwell himself missed it when he ravaged the area! And so it has remained preserved unlike so many other Catholic churches in this area that were seized by his army–a small humble church with a victorious secret indeed!  Now I have had the privilege of being a part of the same church’s history that escaped Ireland’s greatest villain….Yes, another tangible moment in time.

But perhaps my most valuable moments have come from conversations with locals about history, politics, and of course, the economy–a favorite topic of conversation in Ireland these days.  After the infamous “Celtic Tiger” (a period of economic boom in Ireland), the recession is hitting the country hard, creating extreme distrust with government and banks here in the Republic.   It is not hard to see similarities in Ireland’s economy and culture (pre Celtic Tiger) to that of the Maritime provinces, and I am growing ever-more convinced that there is much we could glean from Ireland’s success…and her mistakes. I fear that things here will get much worse before they get better…but then again I am no economist.

There is so much more to tell but for now that is enough!  Thinking of all my friends and family as I continue in my pilgrimage and wishing you could be here to experience this as well…

With love,


Jonathan Swift and Thin Places

By Alumni Abroad 2 Comments

Today I fell in love. After a week in Dublin,  I have finally found an affection–for Jonathan Swift. I always knew I liked him based on a few satires that I had read, but I never knew exactly how remarkable he was. If he hadn’t been dead for nearly 300 years I would consider marriage.  Let me explain…

With a new perspective I decided to tackle Dublin on my own today and revel in the fact that I could do exactly what I wanted–no one to drag me down! I had things I wanted to see and do and it felt like a great privilege to be able to do them at exactly my own pace.  So after an Americano (I’m not sure I can ever go back to drip coffee), I headed out to walk what ended up feeling like a million miles around the city.  My first stop was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I had low expectations after I had already attend a choral evensong service at Dublin’s most famous cathedral, Christ Church. As it turns out this may have been my favorite stop. I’m not entirely sure why, as it was like going into any other Cathedral in Western Europe (epitaphs, busts, commemorations…and don’t forget the gift shop). It even took me a good 15 minutes before I realized that it wasn’t even a Catholic Cathedral at all, but rather the Church of Ireland (Anglican)–just like the famous Christ Church Cathedral.

When I entered I felt immediately at peace and remembered God and my deep reverence for Him—something I have not done in too long. I made my way to the little chapel at the front where I lit a candle and took a moment to just be. It felt good. Dublin is a busy city and I have been just that since I arrived.   My moment in St. Patrick’s may have been what SSU’s Dean of Arts, Dr. Gregg Finley, would call a “thin place”–a physical location where the heavens meet earth and foster genuine personal connection between man and God.  It was a brief moment, but enough to remind me why I am here.

I continued about the Cathedral until I came to the display on my dear Jonathan Swift, who was Dean there during the early 18th Century.  There I read about his life as, what I would call, an activist. He used his political and literary gifts to battle injustice in Ireland—from building a proper hospital for the mentally ill (who were often put on display before the public) and raising money for destitute elderly women, to single handedly preventing the English government from infecting Ireland with a debased currency which would have ruined the already fragile economy.  I know I want to read more about this man, more of his works, and hopefully squeeze him into my thesis somehow.  I think my point of infatuation came when I read a quote of his saying: “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” (Thoughts on Various Subjects).  I am afraid not much has changed since.  In reflection i wonder if we have simple exchanged one conflict for another: Protestant vs Catholic; Muslim vs Christian; secular vs. sacred. Sadly, we have not learned from our past in this regard.

My moment at St. Patrick’s was short, but divine and has given me a lot to think about, especially in this country where religious conflict is so tightly wound into the fabric of its history and culture.

After my visit to St. Patrick’s I did carry on through the courtyards of Dublin Castle to onto the Chester Beatty Library.  This library houses some of the oldest written works existing today including their oldest piece, dated about 2700 BC, which, hilariously, is a very erotic love poem that is so explicit, the translation is not released to the general public– including the librarians themselves! But among the library’s collections they have some of the oldest known pieces of the gospels on papyrus, dated about 250 A.D.  It was a worthwhile visit, learning all sorts of things not only about Western manuscripts but also Middle Eastern and Eastern religions, as well as many secular books (Marie Antoinette’s personal collection).

When I first arrived in Dublin i was given advice from a taxi driver on the best sites to see in the city. I took this advice very seriously and after the library I moved on to what I was told was by far the best tourist attraction in Dublin—the Kilmainham Gaol. I was not disappointed. Kilmainham Gaol is one of the largest prisons in Europe, playing a significant role in Irish political history. The tour was amazing and gives a great overview of the 1916 Rising and other rebellions leading up to Ireland’s independence from Britain.  The tour guide did an excellent job of adding a human component with the story of political prisoner Joseph Plummett, who married his sweat heart in the jail’s chapel just a day before he was executed for being a rebel leader. I’ll admit i choked back a tear or two as the guide told of how Grace Plummett waited all night only to hear the final execution shots ring out to tell her that her husband was dead. It is said the execution of these leaders was the key component in declaring Ireland a free state.  The tour also gave a great overview of the philosophy of criminal reform that was prevalent during the Victorian era in Western Europe, of which Kilmainham Gaol was a leader.

Although I am finished with Dublin for now, i will return in a few weeks to do more research and visit a few places that I missed (including the Guinness Storehouse). And in case you are worried, this is just a reflection on one of my days here. I have already viewed the Book of Kells (first stop!), Trinity College’s Old Library (a huge library of books only dated before 1850), the National Art Gallery (Jack Yeats and Henry Clark steal the show), and Christ Church Cathedral. However, for now, I am happy to leave the bustle of a very touristy city for some 5 star camping and personal guided tours around county Kilkenny.

With Love…


By Alumni Abroad One Comment

I can’t remember what it is like to travel without the aim of academic pursuit. Two undergraduate trips at SSU that took me to Western Europe and South Africa set a certain standard of travel that has me absorbed in learning about the history, culture, and social climate of every country I visit.  Perhaps less of tourist, but also less of a vacationer!  Now, a few years after my undergraduate degree, I am working on a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies–this academic venture has taken me across the Atlantic once again to a country in which I am a very obvious stranger: Ireland.

It has been one week of a four week trip–one day I am tourist, the next a student, and another, a representative for St. Stephen’s University and our extensive travel study programs.

Although my accomplishments my first few days merely involved staying awake after an extremely long red eye through London, I did have the opportunity to get acquainted with Trinity College in the heart of Dublin. Trinity College is the starting point of my research on Irish Catholic Immigration to Atlantic Canada. In learning the basic of TC library use, however,  my suspicions were confirmed–most of the primary sources I need are scattered around Ireland at local history site (archives, libraries, museums, etc.).  I didn’t imagine there were any sources Trinity College didn’t have as it contains over 4 millions books–copyright laws automatically give them a copy of every book published in England. I have more respect for a degree in Library Studies now more than ever…I can’t imagine having to catalog and organize all those collections!  In fact, only about 20% of Trinity’s sources are on the shelves for public access–the  rest are stockpiled or electronic.

I suppose some people are wondering (and the rare few maybe even interested) what I am actually studying here in Ireland.  Well, this is all research for my classes at St. Stephen’s University and eventual Masters thesis.  Specifically, while I am here, I am focusing on a research paper called “Cultural Transfer and the Irish Immigration Narrative in New Brunswick.”  Of course  I am looking at Irish settlement in all the Maritimes, but often New Brunswick (Saint John and St. Andrews) was an entry point for Irish immigrants.

Here is a short excerpt from my project proposal which i am using as an outline which may give you an idea of exactly what i am doing way over here across the Atlantic:

The Irish Diaspora is a compelling field of study in both Canada and Ireland. With the help of the Ireland Canada University Foundation, I plan to explore in depth the historical phenomenon of cultural transfer and the Irish immigration narrative in New Brunswick and Maritime Canada. Through the study of the Irish exodus and the eventual settlement of Irish Catholics in New Brunswick (1765-1850), Atlantic Canada as a whole will gain a clearer understanding of the Irish contribution to Canadian identity.  This work will provide a detailed case study of early Irish settlement communities in the province of New Brunswick (particularly the Miramichi and Saint John regions) to determine what cultural traits and traditions were both left behind in the “Old World” and which were kept in particular “New World” settlements.  To achieve this research objective, a thorough analysis of the cultural transfer of early Irish communities is essential. I plan to uncover the ideals of these early immigrants, how their expectations were met (or not met), how the economic and social status of the Catholic immigrants in particular affected their migration and settlement choices, which folk traditions were kept and which were lost, and finally how fully appreciating the Irish Diaspora in the Maritime Provinces will help preserve Irish culture and enhance Canada’s Irish identity.

The Irish Catholic settlement communities in New Brunswick remained unassimilated longer than other regions of immigration in the region.  They still retain a vibrant Irish identity.  As such, these communities can be used as a case study for both Irish and Canadian scholars alike.  However, to be credible, this research initiative must have access to significant sources contained in the archives and libraries of Dublin; sources such as emigration and ship records, censuses, newspapers, and periodicals, as well as immigration and folk literature and related first-hand accounts. The Irish people in New Brunswick have much to offer both Canada and Ireland, but cultural transfer and the Irish immigration narrative needs deliberate attention and investment. As one scholar of Irish Diaspora Studies put it, “If Irish Diaspora Studies – and, indeed, Irish Studies – is to be anything more than a ragbag of predilections then we must make good scholarship our first aim.” (Patrick O’Sullivan, University of Bradford, 1997).

I plan to post regular updates about my experiences here in Dublin and beyond, so keep checking to learn more about my FASCINATING research topic, as well as some other cool pieces of information about life in Ireland.  I am also using this time of study and reflection as a bit of personal pilgrimage so please keep me in prayer as I  journey throughout the Emerald Isle.

With Love,


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