Master of Divinity

Goal and Objectives 

The goal of the program in all its dimensions is to provide students with opportunities to develop the identity and competency for ordained priestly ministry in the Church. Specifically, the Master of Divinity Program aims to develop in the students a personally interiorized integration of spiritual development, theological knowledge, pastoral skills and the necessary human qualities by means of the following objectives: 

  1. Knowledge of the sources of the Christian faith and the official teachings of the Catholic Church
  2. Understanding of the various subdivisions of theological study, their interconnectedness, and their meaning and relevance in the contemporary Church and world
  3. Ability to communicate the Christian message through preaching and teaching
  4. Cultivation of pastoral identity, practical pastoral skills, and the exercise of leadership in ecclesial community
  5. Acquisition of an understanding of the human person, including the dynamics of human development, interpersonal relationships, and recognition of the diversity among persons
  6. Development of a sound spiritual foundation rooted in a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ within the context of the Catholic ecclesial communion
  7. Recognition of the global dimensions of priestly ministry in contemporary society.

The Master of Divinity program consists of eight semesters, except in the case of those who qualify for a special program. The core curriculum is divided into four major concentrations:  

biblical studies, theology, church history and pastoral studies. 

In addition to the core curriculum, each student is required to complete four elective courses. 


Introduction to Philosophy
This course examines the major questions in Philosophy.  Particular emphasis is given to the work of Plato and of Aristotle.  

Medieval Philosophy
This course will introduce the student to the great medieval revival of philosophical inquiry that culminated in the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Emphasis will be given to Saint Augustine, Saint Anselm and Saint Thomas Aquinas, with some attention to other thinkers, as needed. 

Introduction to Human and Spiritual Formation I
This course seeks to help the seminarian develop a sound spiritual foundation rooted in a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ, both individually and within the context of the Catholic ecclesial communion.  

Introduction to Human and Spiritual Formation II
This course seeks to support the seminarian’s progress in self-development in three areas of the “four pillars” of formation (cf. Pastores Dabo Vobis): the human, spiritual and pastoral dimensions of ordained Catholic Ministry. 

Biblical Studies

Pentateuch and Historical Books
The course is designed to help the student continue to study the Old Testament in the years after ordination. After a presentation on foundational topics, the syllabus covers the Torah, the Deuteronomistic History and the Persian Period Histories. While a broad coverage of the narrative is provided, central focus is given to texts contained in the Lectionary. 

Prophets and Writings
The Prophetic Writings and Wisdom Literature are studied in the context of their historical background and theology.  In historical progression, the major and minor prophets of the 8th, 7th, 5th and 2nd centuries are studied including a broad discussion of the apocalyptic genre as it appears in the Prophetic Corpus. The Wisdom Literature genre is reviewed through a study of five books in the Wisdom Corpus. Throughout, central place is given to texts used in preaching. 

Synoptic Gospels
This course begins with a survey of the origin, historical context, and development of the Synoptic Gospels, then engages the literary structure, purpose, and theology of the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, spelling out the unique features of each Gospel for effective preaching. The examination of Luke involves examination of the overall plan and early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. 

Paul and the Pauline Letters
This course begins with an examination of the life and mission of Paul in Acts and the letters, and then an examination of nearly all the letters, with special focus on 1 Corinthians as the most revelatory of Paul’s pastoral genius. The course traces the developments of his thought in the works written under his name and ends with a short examination of the Epistle to the Hebrews, linked by tradition to Paul. Special attention is paid to Paul’s momentous contributions to Christian theology and spirituality. 

Johannine Writings  
This course examines John’s massive contributions to the Church’s understanding of Jesus, and how that has affected our sacraments, theology, and worship.  Beginning with the challenges John presents to a coherent historical picture of Jesus, the course moves directly to the Johannine letters to situate the context of this Gospel in the First Century church. Then it moves chapter by chapter through the Gospel, examining literary structure, theological insights, and the preponderance of Baptism and Eucharist in John’s presentation of Jesus.   


Fundamental Theology
This course focuses on the foundations of theology: questions relating to revelation and faith; questions relating to theology's sources; and questions relating to the overall issue of theological method. The goal is to assist the student to elaborate a theology of revelation; a theology of faith; a theology of Sacred Scripture; and a theology of Tradition as lived authoritatively in the Church. 

Theological Anthropology
This course will study the meaning of human existence in light of the Christian faith. It will examine the biblical, doctrinal and theological reflecting on the human person.  

This course studies the essential doctrines and theologies concerning Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son and the Holy Trinity. This is done by systematic examination of the biblical sources, patristic thought, Church doctrines, and theological developments through the Christian centuries. 

Liturgical Studies
Beginning with the basic terminology, the theological character and major elements of Roman Catholic worship, the student will study the various ways our Church responds to the Second Vatican Council’s declaration that the liturgy is to be the action of the whole people of God  (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 7 & 14). The course will examine three basic foundations of the Sacred Liturgy: history, theology and an analysis of the present documentation on liturgy.

This course's purpose is to undertake a thorough examination of the Church’s teaching about herself. It includes study of the essential doctrines, the biblical foundation and developments of ecclesiology in history, as well as contemporary theological themes, especially those of the Second Vatican Council and post-conciliar emphasis on communion ecclesiology. Particular attention is given to the themes of the Petrine office, the Magisterium’s role, the College of Bishops and the particular Church. The goal is to provide the future priest with a solid understanding of the Church's nature, structures and mission. 

Moral Theology - Fundamental Moral Theology
This course is an introduction to moral theology--the branch of theology which concerns the ordering of our lives toward true and lasting happiness with God by means of our actions. The course will describe the overall vision of the moral life according to key teachings of the Magisterium, as well as the history of Catholic moral theology, with particular emphasis on developments since Vatican II and the Church’s response to these developments.  

Moral Theology- Catholic Social Doctrine
This course is an introduction to the social doctrine of the Catholic Church.  While the Fundamental Moral Theology course surveys how the human person orders his life toward true and lasting happiness with God by means of his actions, Catholic Social Doctrine and Ethics focuses on the creation of conditions in society which are conducive to this happiness.  As such, it has to do with the common good – the sum total of social conditions that allow people to flourish more fully and more easily.

Moral Theology - Catholic Bioethics
This course focuses on life and death issues in medical ethics. After a brief review of Veritatis Splendor, the letter of Pope John Paul II on moral theology, specific issues in medical ethics will be explored, including abortion, prenatal testing and treatment, assisted reproduction, the role of the priest in the encounter with the patient, contraception, sterilization, natural family planning, euthanasia, assisted suicide, end-of-life care, and stem cell research. 

Moral Theology - Catholic Sexual Ethics
An examination of the tradition’s teaching on sexuality and marriage. We address topics such as pre-marital sex, homosexuality, and birth control, from the perspective of a theology of marriage and chastity. 

Sacraments of Christian Initiation
This course covers Catholic sacramental theology and the first two sacraments of initiation, Baptism and Confirmation. The general doctrine is traced from its biblical and traditional roots, through medieval development, to the Vatican Council II and contemporary sources. Attention is given to the Catholic doctrine of objective efficacy. The study of Baptism and Confirmation, including the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, informs the future priest about their origin and theological progression. Proper liturgical celebration is emphasized.  A baptism practicum is included. 

Theology of Priesthood
This course treats the theological and doctrinal foundations of ministerial priesthood originating in Jesus Christ and developing in the Sacrament of Holy Orders in the life of the Church. Biblical, Patristic and later historical sources are examined closely. Particular attention is given to the Second Vatican Council and subsequent treatment by theology and magisterium, including study of the Rite of Ordination. The course treats Church teaching on celibacy and the reservation of orders to men, as well as providing a clear focus on diocesan priestly identity and spiritual life.  

Theology of Eucharist
The aim of this course is to examine the theology of Eucharist as it has developed in the history of the Church, and to seek a contemporary statement of its principal theological issues. Since the course is developed within contemporary sacramental theology, it will also include an understanding of sacrament as it has emerged in the liturgical documents of and since Vatican Council II. Finally, though the major focus of the course is on doctrinal issues, it will also serve as an aid for preaching, liturgical celebration and prayer.  A practicum component is included. 

Sacraments of Healing
The purpose of this course is to undertake a serious study of the way in which the Church deals with the realities of sin and sickness through its rituals of healing and comfort. A consideration of the historical and scriptural foundations of the sacraments of Penance and Anointing will be made in addition to a presentation of the contemporary developments since Vatican II.   

A practicum component is included with careful emphasis on the role of priest as confessor. 

Catholic Spiritual Tradition
This course will investigate the main trends, issues and developments in Christian spirituality from the post-apostolic age to the present. As it seeks a deeper understanding and appreciation of the heritage of Christian spirituality, it also seeks to shed light upon and give assistance to our present-day spiritual journey. 

Introduction to Patristic Theology
This course presents a survey of the development of doctrine in the early Church from the first century through the middle of the fifth century. The readings, lectures, student presentations and class discussions introduce the student to the conciliar teaching, theologies and personalities of the early Christian period. 

Church History

Church History I: 100-1400
An introduction to the concerns, activities, and leaders of the Church as it faced persecution, integrated new cultures and became the dominant force in European culture. Developments in doctrine, organization, and religious practice are studied through primary source readings.  

Church History II: 1400 to Vatican II
A survey of the Western Church from the end of the middle ages through the crises of reform and modernity to the Second Vatican Council. This will include an emphasis on issues still affecting Christians today. 

Pastoral Studies

Pastoral Theology
This course is intended to aid priestly formation for the ministry of pastoral care in parish settings. The course will help equip seminarians with theological understandings of ministry and pastoral approaches to the New Evangelization.  

As pastoral care involves a variety of ministerial roles, duties and relationships, consideration will be given to the kinds of collaboration needed in one or multiple parishes. Particular attention will be given to the spiritual fatherhood of the ordained priest. This course seeks to foster the integration of the course content with the personal development, pastoral formation and spiritual identity of seminarians.  

The Counseling Pastor:  An Introduction to Pastoral Counseling
This course introduces candidates for the priesthood to the basic elements of pastoral counseling. The lectures and reading help students acquire listening skills, develop a pastoral relationship, provide insight and feedback, and action planning. With these basic counseling skills in place, the course addresses situations and issues that commonly arise in parochial ministry - such as substance abuse, physical and mental illness, and bereavement. Professional ethics in pastoral ministry envelops the entire course.  

Introduction to Canon Law
An historical-theological consideration of the development of Church laws: the role of Church order, current pastoral approaches to Church law and ministry; structures in the Church community; law and sacraments; rights and due process. 

Canon Law of Marriage
A historical-theological study of the Christian community's response to the biblical vision of marriage, together with a presentation and analysis of the Church's teaching and a canonical ordering of marriage as a juridical, sacramental, social and ethical reality. 

Integrative Colloquium
The central focus of the course is the research and presentation of a variety of case studies that are contextualized in parochial ministry. The course provides a context in which the students can express the integration and appropriation of their course of studies.  

Liturgical Music Practicum  (Non-credit course)
This weekly session of "learning by doing" prepares the seminarian to sing those parts of liturgy usually sung by the priest or deacon. 

Speech I
Includes: preparation for preaching, reading liturgical texts, development of style and presence in public speaking. 

Homiletics I
This course builds on the students’ public speaking skills, provides the introductory tools by which effective homilies are prepared and delivered, and offers the students the opportunity to write and present several homilies. 

Liturgical Preaching
In this advanced preaching course, ordination candidates utilize public speaking skills and preaching basics from previous courses to further develop the ability to communicate the Christian message through the art of liturgical preaching. Developing this practical pastoral skill contributes to the candidates’ overall formation in cultivating a pastoral presence and the exercise of leadership in the Christian community. Course components include:  the creation of a personal Preaching Formation Plan, weekly preaching labs, informative readings, instructor’s presentations and class discussions. 

Upon completion of this course, the ordination candidate will be able to:  prepare, compose, deliver and evaluate homilies for Sunday Eucharist and other sacramental occasions, including baptism, penance services, weddings, funerals and Marian feasts; establish one’s own method for preparing and composing the homily; compose homilies in narrative form; deliver homilies in extemporaneous style and both receive and process feedback from listeners to improve one’s preaching skills.