SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: Program of Formation
Saint Francis of Assisi Theological Seminary, is a not-for-profit corporation operated by the North American Old Roman Catholic Church under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Originally founded in 1919, it continues a rich heritage of theological and pastoral service to The North American Old Roman Catholic Church, attentive to the needs of its constituencies, while cognizant of the contemporary global context of both theology and the priesthood.
To achieve this mission, Saint Francis of Assisi Theological Seminary, operates four separate but inter-related programs of instruction, at three distinct levels. All students, who are candidates for the priesthood, enroll in a four-year Ordination Program, which is based on the norms established by the College of Bishops of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church; simultaneously these students also enroll in a Master of Sacred Theology Degree Program. The two programs together form the Theologate and are designed to be completed by students within their four years of study with Saint Francis Seminary, prior to ordination.
The operation of these programs at Saint Francis Seminary entails the following elements:
a competent and dedicated administration, faculty, and staff;
a diversified student body recruited from a variety of dioceses and religious communities;
a set of theological formation programs, conducive to teaching, learning, and research, focused in three areas—the human and spiritual, the intellectual and cultural, and the pastoral and practical;
a suitable information resources program;
a set of faculty and student support services;
a system of regular outcomes assessment, evaluation, and program revision;
an effective and consultative system of governance, including a Seminary Board of Regents;
a continuously updated strategic plan; a commitment to institutional integrity at all levels of operations;
a sound financial basis;
The Ordination and the S.T.M. Programs together draw on all three of the formation programs of Saint Francis, and hereinafter are described jointly.
Saint Francis of Assisi Theological Seminary also operates a second program, a Pre-Theologate Program, in cooperation with the Departments of Philosophy and Theology of Saint Francis Seminary. In this program, candidates who have not met the philosophy and theology requirements for entry into Saint Francis’s Theologate level program may do so in the Pre-Theologate Program. This option requires participation in a human, intellectual and spiritual formation program at Saint Francis Seminary, and normally entails from one to two years of study and formation.
THE THEOLOGATE PROGRAM
The Ordination Program of Saint Francis of Assisi Theological Seminary supplies the requirements for ordination to the Old Roman Catholic priesthood as these are described in the norms established by the College of Bishops, the Code of Canon Law, and other authoritative documents. Certification of completion of this program is issued in the form of a Certificate of Priestly Formation, as well as in a letter of recommendation from the Rector of the seminary to the candidate’s sponsoring ordinary, who finally possesses the right to call to orders. Ordination itself is recognized as a first-professional degree by the U.S. Department of Education.
The Ordination Program is normally a four-year program, but may be modified in cooperation with sponsoring Ordinaries. The Ordination Program consists of a core of required courses, electives, a practicum requirement, a supervised ministry requirement, an annual student evaluation and a summative evaluation exercise in the form of a comprehensive examination.
Core courses afford the student a basic level of knowledge and skill for priestly ministry; electives, an opportunity for specialization of theological interest or advanced pastoral study; practicum and supervised ministry courses, an opportunity for hands-on learning combined with theological reflection. The annual evaluation affords the student an opportunity to demonstrate his integration of theological knowledge and pastoral skills, in a context of dialogue with faculty members. The comprehensive examination affords the student an opportunity to demonstrate in a summative way his competence in the theological disciplines, as these are related to pastoral ministry.
Successful completion of the first two years of study, constitute the requirements for the purely ecclesiastical degree of Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.).
Successful completion of the third year (first three years) of study, constitute the requirements for the purely ecclesiastical degree of Licentiate of Sacred Theology (S.T.L.). The third year represents the first year of advanced study in a specific field of Theology.
The Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) Degree Program constitutes the equivalent of two years of advanced study in a specific field of Theology, taken from various points in the four years of the Ordination Program. It encompasses the full four year program od study. It draws 80% of its requirements from the basic core courses, and 20% from the practicum elements. The S.T.M. incorporates the annual student evaluations of the Ordination Program; it does not, however, incorporate the parochial internship. The Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) degree is a purely ecclesiastical degree.
The Ordination and S.T.M. Programs are jointly articulated in three theological formation programs: Human and Spiritual Formation, Intellectual and Cultural Formation, and Pastoral and Practical Formation. Each is here described.
Human and Spiritual Formation
This program seeks to affirm a basis for priestly identity in a healthy personality, as well as in a firm personal adherence to Christ and to his Church. It seeks to elicit and foster a willingness and a commitment to the tasks of the priestly ministry, and it seeks to encourage the grace-filled spirituality of ongoing Gospel conversion that is particular to a priest’s way of life. It holds candidates accountable to a set of personal goals based on the objectives of the program, and it looks for consistent patterns of achievement and growth. A special focus of this program is the liturgy.
Intellectual and Cultural Formation
This program seeks to impart an understanding and appreciation of the meaning and values of priestly identity, ministry, and spirituality, of the Christological and ecclesiological context on which these are based, and of the transcultural challenge of evangelization to which they are addressed. Its authoritative source is the Word of God, transmitted in its entirety by authentic Catholic Tradition and Sacred Scripture, and interpreted authentically by the Church’s Magisterium; its focus is the task of communicating that Word in contemporary society.
Pastoral and Practical Formation
This program seeks to provide an anticipated experience of priestly identity, a true ministry of current service in the Church, and the confirmation of a ministerial spirituality. Its principal tool is the experience of supervision, in which the skills of theological reflection and analysis are affirmed and developed. It seeks to integrate theory and practice, and to generate questions for further reflection, study, and growth, in both the personal and professional realms.
These three programs form a balanced whole, an integrated theological formation in three distinct but interrelated aspects. Administration and faculty, although they may be specialized in one or another of the three, have concern for and contribute to the whole.
THE PRE-THEOLOGATE PROGRAM
Saint Francis Seminary recognizes that candidates entering into the process of priestly formation will begin with a varying background in Philosophy and Religious Studies. For students who do not have the required background and foundation in Philosophy and Religious Studies to begin the S.T.M. Program, Saint Francis Seminary sponsors a Pre-Theologate Program.
This program has been established in order to ease the transition from a secular career to seminary life--especially in its academic, apostolic and spiritual components.
The academic courses are taught primarily by the faculty of Saint Francis Seminary. The Spiritual Formation and Apostolic Formation components of the Pre-Theologate Program are directed by the Saint Francis Seminary Mentoring Faculty.
Among the courses that are offered:
Old Testament Introduction
New Testament Introduction
Fundamentals of Catholic Doctrine I
Fundamentals of Catholic Doctrine II
Introduction to Philosophy
History of Philosophy
Philosophy of Religion
Foundations of Social Justice
THE POST-THEOLOGATE PROGRAM
Saint Francis of Assisi Theological Seminary also conducts a Post-Theologate program which serves as a vehicle to allow the clergy and religious of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church to pursue advanced Theological Study in various areas of Theology and also serves as the vehicle for Continuing Education for the clergy. At this writing the specifics of the program are under preparation. Successful completion of a Post-Theologate degree program leads to the purely ecclesiastical degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology.
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