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Fr. Dale Announces the "Collegeville Core"

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January 23, 2017

Christian communities need leaders who can articulate a dynamic vision of the faith grounded in the ancestral tradition.  Our School of Theology and Seminary cultivates in its students, faculty, and staff a yearning for the wisdom of the Christian tradition.  Listening carefully to sacred texts, asking searching questions of what our ancestors in the faith understood about God, participating in the tried and true worship practices of the past two millennia, praying the psalms and reading the spiritual classics—these practices help us remain in conversation with God and position our students to be heralds of the Gospel and midwives of Christian communities.  Contemporary Christians are yearning for encounters with Christ and are not satisfied with mere ideas about God or information about God’s Law.

Wisdom pervades not only the cosmos but also the individual and collective lives of the communities our students will serve.  Students in the scribal schools linked with the Jerusalem Temple in the time of Christ set their minds and hearts on Woman Wisdom as they searched out God’s will for them in the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.  Woman Wisdom in the Hebrew Scriptures is a forerunner of Jesus Christ as the Mediator between God and humans.  To love Wisdom is to strive for communion with God.  In the SOT/Sem, we urge one another to pursue Wisdom—an activity that occurs not only in the classroom but also in the oratory, dining room, and recreational areas.  As our students embrace this pursuit of Wisdom, they try to become compassionate caregivers and leaders who will draw the best out of the members of their communities.

In the past year, the SOT/Sem faculty has undertaken a comprehensive review of its programs in conversation with our students, alums, and Board.  A major result of this review was a revamping of our M.A. in Theology (42 credits) into a Master of Theological Studies (MTS; 48 credits).  The focus areas of the MTS are Scripture, Doctrine, Liturgy, History of Christianity, and Monastic Studies/Spirituality.  Students will find this degree to be not only a strong preparation for high school teaching but also a solid pathway to doctoral studies.  For students committed to pastoral ministry in its various forms, they will find the Master of Divinity (78 credits in the lay track; 114 in the ordination track) in a revised format with distribution requirements (i.e., choices of courses in the areas of Scripture, Doctrine, Liturgy, History of Christianity, Pastoral Studies, and Monastic Studies/Spirituality) to be a comprehensive preparation.  For students intent on a particular form of pastoral ministry, the Master of Arts in Ministry (MAM; 36 credits) has replaced the M.A. in Pastoral Ministry (48 credits) as a degree geared toward specialized ministries (i.e., pastoral caregiver, deacon, spiritual director, youth and family minister, liturgical leader/coordinator).  Finally, the M.A. in Liturgical Music has been increased from 36 to 42 credits.  The new format includes a revamped final seminar in which a synthesis of music, liturgy, and theology is presented not only in the classroom but also in the chapel and applied settings.  This revision has also added a Parish Practicum to foster pastoral skills.  The Master of Theology (ThM; 24 credits) remains as a degree focused on immediate preparation for doctoral work with emphasis upon language preparation and thesis writing.

These curricular revisions, guided by our commitment to the pursuit of Wisdom, emphasize the education of the whole person who will be a leader in a Christian community as a teacher or pastoral minister.  Students in the MDiv, MTS, and MAM take courses in Scripture, Doctrine, Liturgy, History of Christianity, and Monastic Studies/Spirituality.  The interplay of these disciplinary areas at the heart of our curriculum generate a distinctive learning dynamic, which we refer to as “the Collegeville Core.”  We believe it is the integration of mind and heart in praying, thinking, and serving through life in the Spirit that emboldens one to proclaim with conviction and enthusiasm the coming of God’s kingdom—a reality already present but yet to come in its fullness.