by MICHAEL OTTO
AUCKLAND — A seminarian has been awarded the top National Scholarship in Professional Speaking.
Bryan Buenger, who is in his second year of studies at Holy Cross Seminary in Auckland, gained a Diploma in Professional Speaking (with distinction) in a Speech New Zealand examination last year.
Mr Buenger, who is preparing for diocesan priesthood for Palmerston North diocese, also received the 2012 BRG (Busby Ramshaw Grice) Award for Professional Speaking, which saw him receive a $500 scholarship.
He was presented with the award at the seminary on March 20. Mr Buenger announced he will donate the funds to the Catholic Caring Foundation in Auckland and to Mother Angelica’s Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).
Mr Buenger, who hails from Arizona, said he had worked in several roles that involved public speaking, including a personnel job for a large bank, being a flight attendant for a major United States airline and most recently being a secondary school teacher.
“But none of them has been as important as the job I am in training for at this time in my life,” he said.
“The ability to communicate effectively is vitally important not only in business, but in ministry as well.”
Despite the many means of communicating available today, face-to-face communication, including preaching, will always be a primary way of spreading the Good News to the faithful and the unchurched, he added.
“No other media can communicate the passion in a person’s voice and actions quite like that of being present at a dynamic speech.”
The diploma examination tests skills that could be applied in the business world. Candidates make a pitch for a product, service or innovation, introduce an area of change in an organisation or profession, manage a conflict, give a formal speech and an impromptu talk related to leadership, and they also answer questions.
Normally the first year students at the seminary complete an introductory certificate in professional speaking, but in recent years some have done the full certificate examination. But last year, two students were encouraged to complete the diploma level — Anthony Trenwith from Auckland and Mr Buenger.
The citation for Mr Buenger’s award praised his determination, talent and sense of humour.
Mr Buenger, aged 54, paid tribute to seminary speech communication tutor Claire Marsh who, with others, helped him prepare for the examination. “She is a very competent coach and guide,” he said.
Mrs Marsh, who travels from Morrinsville to teach at the seminary, said Mr Buenger prepared a 300-word written statement about his skills and his future role, and the examiners used this to devise impromptu topics on leadership.
“Bryan [spoke on] listening as a fundamental management and leadership skill. He captured it beautifully,” Mrs Marsh said.
About a dozen finalists were selected from throughout New Zealand for the Speech New Zealand diploma examination, she added.
Holy Cross Seminary rector Msgr Peter Jeffrey said pastors need to be both living the Gospel and proclaiming it in ways that are relevant to their communities. Apart from the important roles of preaching and proclaiming Scripture, “they need to develop the skills of effective communication with a variety of people”, he said.
Msgr Jeffrey said the seminary was fortunate to have Mrs Marsh’s services.
He said Mr Buenger’s success is “a significant achievement”.