“The Year of Faith: Pope Benedict’s Challenge to Us” is the theme for The University Series, an inter-deanery adult faith formation and education program featuring local and national leaders, authorities and voices of the Catholic Church, which begins its twelfth year Feb. 14 at ten Ventura County parishes.“Baptism opens the door of faith, and during this year we are called to walk through it and renew our personal relationship with Christ and the Church,” said Bob Jordan, one of the series’ organizers. “The University Series offers everyone a variety of opportunities to do so.” The Lenten program of approximately 90 courses (including some in Spanish) again will be held at parishes in Deaneries 3 and 4. They include Holy Cross (Moorpark), Blessed Junípero Serra and St. Mary Magdalen (Camarillo), St. Julie Billiart (Newbury Park), St. Jude the Apostle and St. Maximilian Kolbe (Westlake Village), St. Paschal Baylon (Thousand Oaks), St. Peter Claver and St. Rose of Lima (Simi Valley), and Our Lady of the Assumption (Ventura).Workshops — held 7:30-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays through March 21 — address social justice, spirituality, prayer, liturgy, morality, Church history, current events and more. Among this year’s courses is “Catholic Consequences of Obamacare,” set Feb. 21 at Our Lady of the Assumption in Ventura, and presented by Professor Carter Snead, director for the Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame and a specialist in public bioethics. Snead, who has written extensively on such issues as stem-cell research, abortion and end-of-life decision-making, said his course will adresss such questions as, “Will the new healthcare program be affordable and help the poor? What is the purpose of 43 major Catholic institutions joining together in a lawsuit against sections of the Affordable Care Act? Is there an actual threat to religious freedom or it is just partisan politics?”The University’s 2013 program also includes a four-part series on “The Gospel According to John,” led by Jesuit Father Felix Just, a prominent Bible scholar and director of Biblical Studies at the Loyola Institute for Spirituality in Orange. This series will take place nightly Feb. 25-28 at Blessed Junípero Serra.Other noteworthy courses include:—John Allen, CNN’s senior Vatican correspondent, on “The Global War on Christians; What Should Catholics Know and Do?”, the subject of his forthcoming book (Feb. 25 at St. Maximilian Kolbe).—Father Alexei Smith, director of the archdiocesan Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, on major inter-faith achievement and disappointments in the 50 years since Vatican II (March 4 at St. Julie Billiart).—Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, of the Vatican Observatory at Castle Gondolfo, Italy, on whether (or how) scientific discoveries from the Vatican’s observatories impact faith (Feb. 28 at St. Pachal Baylon).—Daniel Smith-Christopher, a frequent contributor to the History Channel, on Wisdom Literature in the Bible and the provocative idea that it endorses the scientific way of thinking (March 6 at St. Peter Claver).—Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer, president of the Magis Institute and past president of Gonzaga University, on achieving business fame and fortune while staying faithful to Catholic moral principles (March 13 at St. Pachal Baylon).—Opus Dei Father Paul Donlon, a Navy chaplain who took part in the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91, on faith on the battlefield (March 11 at St. Maximilian Kolbe).—A special happy 300th birthday session led by Friar Joe Scerbo at Padre Serra — with a sneak preview of a forthcoming documentary on the “First Pastor to the West.” —Eight sessions in Spanish, featuring Father Paul Velazquez, Deacon Memo Rodriguez, Margaret Oberon, Ernesto Vega, Ruben Quezada and Jesse Romero.Several Sunday evening concerts at St. Pachal Baylon will be part of a “Faith in Music” series, all beginning at 7 p.m.:—“Hope in the Midst of Struggle,” with Joe Sikkora (Feb. 17).—“The Heart of the Pilgrim,” with Juan Carlo Sorez (Feb. 24).—“Music of the Celestial Sphere,” with the Seraphim Ensemble (March 3).—“Journey Towards Grace,” with Lynn Rd. (March 10).—“Lenten Reflections,” with Rise Above (March 17).The St. Bonaventure High School drama department’s plays “Waiting for Lefty” and “A Line in the Sand” on economic justice and immigration policy will be presented Feb. 19 at Blessed Junípero Serra.And Father Dave Heney, St. Pachal Baylon pastor and founder of The University, presents his three-part course on “Excavating Jesus,” based on his annual tours to the Holy Land and relating what archaeology has to say about daily life at the time of Jesus, recent discoveries about Jesus’ home and childhood, and controversies. Father Heney also speaks on the Arab Spring and its impact on Christianity and the prospects for peace in the Middle East.For information on the University Series, visit http://theuniversityseries.org/ or contact one of the participating parishes.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0208/sbuniversity/{/gallery}