St. Charles Borromeo Seminary has revised and renamed its religious studies program as part of renewed public interest in Catholic teachings and theology.
Combining the academic rigor of accredited programs in theology with courses in ministry and catechesis, the program takes its inspiration from the “new evangelization” of the Church, which calls upon Catholics to spread their faith through example and discipleship.
“All our programs are geared to forming lay people to better know and witness to the faith and to eventually get involved in service to the Church,” said Kelly Bowring, the program’s director and recently appointed academic dean of the new Graduate School of Theology.
The new name, the Graduate School of Theology and Program of Catholic Studies, replaces the former Division of Religious Studies in use for the last 40 years.
The reconstituted program and classes are firmly orthodox. The emphasis is on “Catholic” studies, not just “religious studies.”
“The name change more clearly describes who we are and what we offer,” Bowring said.
Classes, many of them taught at night and in different locations throughout the Philadelphia Archdiocese, are open to the public. Enrollment is 80 percent lay compared to the program’s early days when most students were nuns and priests.
“We’re training professionals, homemakers, college-age young adults and senior citizens. We’ve got Anglos, African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics; in short, a broad spectrum,” Bowring said.
The new program has four components:
• Church Ministry Institute, a three-year program of prayer and faith sharing, retreat days, theological reflection, ministry projects, book sharing and pastoral skills formation. The program is offered one night a week at multiple locations. Tuition is $500 a year.
• Catechetical Institute, an eight mini-course program on the Bible and Catechism of the Catholic Church, leading to an archdiocesan catechist certificate for parish catechists and elementary school teachers. Courses are offered one night a week at multiple locations. Tuition is $50 per mini-course.
• College Theology Programs, offering college credit for students seeking to supplement degree programs, achieve certificates in Catholic theology, or for those who simply want to take a theology class. Courses are offered in liturgical studies, youth ministry and African-American ministry one night a week at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. Tuition is $860 per course.
• Master of Arts in Sacred Theology, one of the top theological master of arts programs in the country, noted for its academic rigor and fidelity to the Magisterium, offered to those preparing for professional ministry, high school or college level teaching or doctoral level studies. Class is one night a week at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. Tuition is $1,595 per course.
Bowring sees the revised program as an answer, if not antidote, to what he describes as a “crisis of faith and culture that has affected many of our Catholic colleges in the United States.”
But not, he said, St. Charles. “It’s counted among the top and most respected theological institutes, both nationally and internationally. Our programs are dynamically and faithfully Catholic, as well as academically challenging.”
“Our goal,” he said, “is to provide our students with the academic freedom to pursue the fullness of religious truth, balanced with reason, with the conviction that it is ultimately found in the person of Jesus Christ and the Church He established.”
The Graduate School of Theology currently has 450 students in its various programs and about 50 faculty (9:1 student-professor ratio).
For more information or to enroll, call 610-785-6287 or go to www.studycatholictheology.com.