Pastoral Ministry | MA
Help others discover their faith. Centered in a commitment to adult faith formation, the program welcomes individuals who feel called to deepen their faith and to acquire the knowledge and skills essential for leaders in the pastoral life of parish and school communities. A critical component of this master’s program is the formation of a community of learners within a coherent and developmental model of education. In academics, this model enables students to progress through a degree program with their peers and enhances not only the educational and spiritual aspects of the program but also reinforces a sense of community among adult learners. This program will support the development of the intellectual competencies listed in the current National Certification Standards for Lay Ecclesial Ministers.
More InformationCourse of Study
Course Of Study
Thirteen courses (39 credits) are required for the degree:
- Eight courses in foundational theology
- Two courses in spiritual formation
- Three courses in pastoral skills, including a pastoral project in the student’s chosen area of ministry
- The program can be completed in two academic years
- An overall grade-point average of 3.0 (B)
Theological Exploration (24 credit hours)
Because the curriculum is centered in the Catholic tradition, the examination of theology— faith seeking understanding—forms the foundation of this graduate program. The eight required courses in this area explore the fundamentals of theology, Christology, Church history, Catholic morality, and Christian anthropology to foster in students the critical thinking and analytical skills essential to graduate study in pastoral ministry.
- THE 602 Foundational Theology
- THE 604 God and the Human Person
- THE 606 Perspectives on the Hebrew Scriptures
- THE 608 Perspectives on the Christian Scriptures
- THE 610 Jesus: Fully Human, Fully Divine
- THE 612 The History and Mission of the Church
- THE 614 Moral Theology, Christian Ethics, and Society
- THE 616 Sacramental and Liturgical Theology
Spiritual and Ministerial Formation (6 credit hours)
Critical aspects of pastoral ministry reside not only in personal, spiritual formation but also in the exploration of the vocation of ministry. These two courses will facilitate and support processes of spiritual self-exploration and growth that connect adult faith formation to a vocational understanding of pastoral ministry.
- THE 620 Spiritual Identity and Faith Formation
- THE 621 Ministry as Vocation
Pastoral Skills (9 credit hours)
These courses foster in students the development of skills essential to pastoral ministry. The structure of the courses also encourages students to focus on a specific area of ministry, including religious education, pastoral leadership and administration, pastoral counseling, spiritual direction, youth ministry, music ministry, and adult faith formation.
- THE 630 Arts and Skills for Ministry
- THE 690 Pastoral Project and/or Internship, with Thesis
- THE 699 Professional Readings
Professional religious educators and other interested students have the option of pursuing a concentration in Religious Education involving the study of educational theory and the cultivation of practical pedagogical skills.
- THE 702 Foundations of Religious Education
- THE 704 Methods in Religious Education
- THE 702 and THE 704 supplant THE 621 and THE 699.
- A field-based pastoral project in an educational milieu is also required.
THE 602 Foundational Theology
Examines the fundamental concerns present in all theological inquiry. The course presents a specific framework for understanding a theology of faith, a theology of revelation, a theology of tradition, and a theology of Sacred Scripture.
THE 604 God and the Human Person
Studies the nature of the human person in light of the doctrines of creation, revelation, sin, the grace of transformation in Christ, and community. Contemporary issues in Christian anthropology will also be addressed.
THE 606 Perspectives on the Hebrew Scriptures
Focuses on the development, style, and interpretation of books and writings of the Old Testament.
THE 608 Perspectives on the Christian Scriptures
Explores the development of the Gospels and other writings of the New Testament that highlight the early Church’s understanding of the meaning of life and the message of Jesus.
THE 610 Jesus: Fully Human, Fully Divine
Presents a historical and systematic study of the person and work of Jesus Christ as the object and foundation of Christian faith.
THE 612 The History and Mission of the Church
Examines the origins, nature, and mission of the Church. Topics include theological literature, popular religion, doctrinal developments, the role of the papacy, and the interaction between Christianity and culture.
THE 614 Moral Theology, Christian Ethics, and Society
Focuses on major themes of moral theology and on how Christian, especially Catholic tradition, offers guidance for ethical decision-making. The course also explores the interrelationships among moral theology, Christian ethics, and contemporary society.
THE 616 Sacramental and Liturgical Theology
Explores the history, doctrine, theory and praxis of sacraments and liturgy within the Roman Catholic Church.
THE 620 Spiritual Identity and Faith Formation
Facilitates self-understanding and explores stages of faith and styles and of spiritual journeying through a holistic approach to the Christian spiritual life. The course draws on selected readings, reflection, and prayer to achieve these objectives.
THE 621 Ministry as Vocation
Builds on insight and experience to explore the connections between the call to and the challenges of pastoral ministry. This course will also provide students with an understanding of the theology of ministry and possible pastoral responses to the needs of the community and the Church.
THE 630: Arts and Skills for Ministry
Introduces the student to resources and methods for developing essential skills for ministry.
THE 690 Pastoral Project
Requires the student to create a ministerial project that clearly integrates theology into pastoral ministry. A thesis is required.
THE 699 Professional Readings
Facilitates a program of selected readings that bear a special interest for the student because they substantiate the interest area of the pastoral project of THE 690.
THE 702 Foundations of Religious Education
Examines the foundational principles underlying religious education and their practical application in various educational settings. This course includes a study of the dominant approaches to religious education as described by the leading educational theorists. It explores a range of curriculum models promoting a lifelong faith.
THE 704 Methods in Religious Education
Explores teaching methods appropriate to the presentation of religious concepts from preschool through adult education in school and parish settings. This course includes classroom environment, classroom management techniques, and developmental theories.
Program Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the graduate program in Pastoral Ministry, obtaining a Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Ministry, will be able to:
- Incorporate intellectual and spiritual perspectives on service and leadership with their formation in pastoral ministry.
- Reflect their scholarly and professional familiarity with the theological and spiritual foundations of faith development through written and oral engagement across the curriculum.
- Demonstrate integration of the academic, pastoral, and spiritual dimensions of life through culminating assignments which might include a thesis, project, portfolio, or examination.