M. Div

For men who are discerning a call to priesthood in the Byzantine Catholic Church, the Seminary offers a formation program integrating the spiritual, intellectual, pastoral and personal dimensions. Candidates apply through their local Byzantine Catholic hierarch. Successful completion of the program leads to the Master of Divinity (M. Div.) Degree. Seminarians may opt to pursue either the M.A.(Duquesne University) or M.A.T.

Spiritual Formation
The Church is the people of God who remember and celebrate the mystery of Christ's death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and for life everlasting. The priest, therefore, is a man of prayer ordained to guide the people into communion with God. The foundation of the spiritual life of those preparing for the priesthood is then the celebration of the holy Liturgy. As a community of faith, the seminary celebrates the Divine Liturgy and, on Sundays and feast days, the complete cycle of evening sacrifice and morning praise, Vespers and Matins. The reading of Scripture in these services is complemented by a daily homily. On Sundays, the seminarians attend parochial liturgies where they assist the parish community through teaching and other ministries, in preparation for their future spiritual role as presbyters of the Church. The need for repentance is nourished by frequent celebration of services of penance with opportunity for individual confession. Other services to mark the Church year or special occasions are also celebrated. The penitential seasons of the Church are observed by the proper liturgies, such as the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts during the Great Fast, and by a certain degree of ascetic practice.

The spiritual life of the candidate for the priesthood is also guided by a program of direction and formation on both communal and individual levels. The seminarian is challenged to grow in faith, in service and in Christ-like integrity. Spiritual conferences are given at least twice each month, along with other programs focusing on particular aspects of the spiritual or moral life. Conferences by the Rector are scheduled monthly. Days of prayer are scheduled for each semester and an annual retreat is made in January. Those advancing to major orders participate in a special retreat.

Each seminarian is required to have a personal spiritual director, a priest to guide him as father and friend in his spiritual journey. He is to meet with his director at least twice each month. Individual spiritual directors meet regularly with the Director of Spiritual Formation to formulate common goals and methods of direction. In every case, the necessity of absolute confidentiality for the individual is rigorously maintained.

Intellectual Formation
"A priest is ordained to serve as a teacher representing the person of Christ, head and pastor of the Church." (Program of Priestly Formation #333). The intellectual component of priestly formation therefore rightly places the greatest demands on candidates' time and effort. Within the intense and focused discipline of several years of theological study, the seminarian is expected to come to an understanding of the deposit of the faith in all its richness, to appropriate it personally through prayer and apostolic engagement, to confront contemporary experience in its light, and to develop the skills to communicate it effectively to others.

These goals inform the entire academic program of the Byzantine Catholic Seminary. The core curriculum is broad and balanced, allowing appropriate place for the study of Scripture, dogma, moral theology, liturgy, church history, and spirituality, as well as canon law, liturgical chant, homiletics and pastoral theology and practice. Preference is given in each discipline to the authentic sources of Byzantine Catholic theology: sacred Scripture, the writings of the Fathers, the spiritual and liturgical tradition and more recent magisterial documents. Throughout the curriculum, emphasis is placed on pastoral communication and application. Lectures, readings and assignments reflect the contemporary culture in which future priests must live and preach the Gospel and they likewise encourage the personal appropriation of Tradition which each seminarian must realize by ongoing reading, reflection and prayer. Intellectual formation is ordered ultimately to the conversion of mind and heart (Program of Priestly Formation #335).

The core curriculum is augmented by elective courses and the possibility to participate in theological, liturgical and pastoral conferences and special events throughout the year. The academic life of the Byzantine Catholic Seminary is coordinated by the Dean and supported by the library, with holdings in books, periodicals and other media which reflect the Seminary's goals and purpose.

Pastoral Formation
Pastoral formation builds upon the baptismal vocation of service and discipleship and moves toward the development of an identity, an understanding and an appropriation of the particular charisms of priestly ministry. Pastoral formation at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary includes field education, pastoral courses and practicums as well as pastoral assignments.

Field education is central to the process in which theological seminarians learn about ministry and the Christian faith. It furthers development of ministerial preparation in five major areas: academics, spirituality, interpersonal relationships, personal growth and priestly formation. Field education also fosters integration of theological principles into attitudes and ways of life. The experiences gained in field education confirm and develop ministerial gifts and test the call to the ordained priesthood.

Seminarians must complete four years of supervised field education in a site approved by the Director of Field Education in consultation with the Rector. Seminarians in the field education program are expected to give approximately three hours of service per week; travel time to and from sites is not counted. Field education placements are negotiated with the intent of broadening each seminarian's range of experience in order to contribute to his personal growth in preparation for the priesthood.

Theological studies are complemented by theoretical and practical introductions to pastoral counseling, pastoral leadership, catechetics, homiletics and the liturgical roles of deacons and priests.

All seminarians are assigned to parishes where they participate in the Sunday Liturgy, interact with the community, and engage in some concrete pastoral ministry such as catechetics. The pastoral formation program of the Byzantine Catholic Seminary also foresees summer placements in defined and supervised pastoral situations.

Personal and Vocational Formation
"Because education and growth are gradual processes, the continuing evaluation of seminarians is necessary. Seminarians profit most from a system of periodic evaluations in which they receive clear and accurate information about their behavior and attitudes so that they can change and correct what is inappropriate and develop in those areas in which they may be weak. Such evaluation is primarily the responsibility of the seminary faculty. The faculty should also involve the seminarians themselves, their various supervisors and, either directly or indirectly, religious and lay co-workers and those to whom the seminarians have ministered." (Program of Priestly Formation #529).

The Byzantine Catholic Seminary espouses an integrated program of formation: spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. All these are brought together in the crucible of spiritual direction in the internal forum and in the assessment process in the external forum.

Each year the seminarian, in conjunction with his appointed faculty advisor, sets growth goals appropriate for his level of development. These goals encompass the spiritual, intellectual, pastoral and personal formation areas. They provide focus and direction for his growth and development throughout the year.

At the end of the first semester, the faculty reviews the progress of each seminarian. An oral report of this discussion is then conveyed to the seminarian by his faculty advisor. In addition, the rector meets with each seminarian at the end of the semester to review his progress and to suggest areas for further growth.

Near the end of the second semester, the faculty meets again to discuss each seminarian's progress. Included in this discussion are the seminarian's self-evaluation, the evaluation from his ministerial and parish catechetical supervisors, his summer pastoral evaluation, and any other pertinent evaluative information. A summary document is produced with the seminarian's yearly assessment. The seminarian then has the opportunity to review this document and to make any additional observations. Copies of this final document are sent to the seminarian and to his bishop, and is also retained in the seminary files.

Outcomes

The Master of Divinity (M. Div.) Degree program prepares candidates for ordained ministry who will be able to:

  • appropriate the Byzantine Catholic Tradition through liturgy, prayer, asceticism and apostolic engagement;
  • enunciate the Byzantine Catholic faith critically, intelligently and pastorally;
  • engage contemporary culture critically in the light of faith;
  • lead liturgical worship according to the Byzatnine Catholic tradition;
  • minister effectively in diverse pastoral situations.