“The same God who called Prisca and Aquila to work with Paul in the first century calls thousands of men and women to minister in our Church in this twenty-first century. This call is a cause for rejoicing.”(Co-Workers in the Vineyard, 66)
Saint John’s Seminary offers the Master of Arts in Ministry Program with the purpose of assisting the local Church in the formation of the laity for “the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world” (Lumen Gentium, 31). The MAM Program seeks to foster, with these four pillars of formation, an “ecclesial consciousness” as Pope Saint John Paul II urges: “fix deeply in one’s mind, heart and life an ecclesial consciousness which is ever-mindful of what it means to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ, participants in her mystery of communion and in her dynamism in mission and the apostolate.” (Christifidelis Laici, 64)
The Master of Arts in Ministry Program encompasses the vision and four aspects of lay formation that Pope Saint John Paul II articulated in Christifidelis Laici.
Academic Program: a core curriculum of eleven courses and one elective
Human Formation: workshops and faculty advising
Spiritual Formation: spiritual direction and retreats
Apostolic Field Education: supervised field placements
The four dimensions of formation are integrated into the life of the learning community. Along with an extensive academic program, the MAM program strives to promote a strong faith-community experience which hopes to enhance personal growth as well as ministry skills in leadership and facilitation of faith communities. During the first and second year of study students participate in the monthly Saturday Morning Formation Sessions. These sessions begin with prayer in the chapel, networking, and two workshops, one in human formation and the other in spiritual formation. Prayer concludes the morning. Trained specialists present on human and spiritual formation, inviting students to reflect on their own growth in these fields.
Designed for nonresident students, this program is geared for those who seek to serve the local Church as pastoral associates, religious educators, or in a variety of administrative and ministerial positions that are open to the laity in contemporary Catholic parish life and in other settings such as hospitals, campuses, and prisons.
The foremost goals of The Master of Arts in Ministry Program are:
- That students understand and appreciate that vocation of the lay faithful in the Church and the world so that they can discern well the particular ways in which they are called to live out their baptismal dignity;
- That students grow in personal and spiritual maturity for a deeper appropriation of the gospel of Jesus Christ;
- That students acquire a general knowledge and understanding of the Catholic Tradition;
- That students develop their capacity for analytical and constructive theological reflection pertaining to public work in parishes and other ecclesial institutions;
- That students develop a theological fluency needed for effective evangelization of the contemporary world and fruitful participation and collaboration in the public work of the Church;
- That students acquire skill in the design, implementation, and assessment of educational, spiritual, and social service programs in support of the Roman Catholic Church’s mission in the world.
The academic program can be completed in a minimum of two years. It consists of a curriculum of at least thirty-six academic credits. Eleven core courses cover the disciplines of philosophy, systematic theology, Scripture, Church history, sacramental theology, moral theology, and Canon Law. In addition, one elective, usually in the student’s particular area of interest for future ministry, completes the academic requirements.
A typical sequence for a full-time M.A.M. degree student would be as follows:
Year One- Fall Semester
TH500 Fundamental Theology (3)
OT500 Old Testament (3)
Year A Formation
Year Two- Fall Semester
MT500 Moral Theology (3)
MM500 Canon Law (3)
THPT500 New Evangelization/Pastoral Theology (3)
Year B Formation
Year One- Spring Semester
PH500 Faith and Reason (3)
CH500 Church History (3)
NT500 New Testament (3)
TH516 Trinity/Christology (3)
Year A Formation
Year Two- Spring Semester
ST500 Liturgy and the Sacraments (3)
TH551 Ecclesiology (3)
Year B Formation
Spiritual formation, conducted on a monthly basis and in groups, is at the heart of the Master of Arts in Ministry program. It “aims to arouse and animate true hunger for holiness, desire for union with the Father through Christ in the Spirit, daily growing in love of God and neighbor in life and ministry, and the practices of prayer and spirituality that foster these attitudes and dispositions. It promotes and strengthens that fundamental conversion that places God, and not oneself, at the center of one’s life. Openness to this ongoing conversion is a prerequisite for fruitful spiritual formation. A personal experience in and through the Church of the love of the Father in Christ and through his Spirit is foundational for all ministry, as it is for true discipleship. If ministry does not flow from a personal encounter and ongoing relationship with the Lord, then no matter how ‘accomplished’ it may be in its methods and activities, that ministry will lack the vital soul and source needed to bear lasting fruit. Nothing can substitute for this true conversion and personal encounter with Christ. Spiritual formation cannot produce it, for it is God’s gracious gift; but spiritual formation can teach and help those who seek it, prepare them to receive it, and, when it is given, develop its fruits in their lives and ministry” (Co-Workers in the Vineyard, p. 38).
Students are expected to participate actively and regularly in the sacramental life of their local parishes and to center their spiritual life on the Eucharist. The desire to grow in the spiritual life is an important aspect in evaluating whether to accept an applicant or not. Daily prayer is essential in the life of a lay minister. The spiritual formation program offers instruction in various methods of prayer so that, whether students arrive with a solid prayer life or a less developed one, their prayer life will be deepened and broadened through the two years of formation. The primary elements of spiritual formation are regular participation in the sacraments and monthly prayer and formation meetings.
The Master of Arts in Ministry student is encouraged to be assisted in his or her formation by an approved spiritual director. A student seeking a spiritual director and/or retreat opportunities is encouraged to contact the Assistant to the Director of The Theological Institute of Saint John’s Seminary. The student will then be provided with a list of former and current spiritual directors and retreat houses near to or in the Archdiocese of Boston. Monthly formation workshops provide opportunities to learn methods of prayer and to deepen attentiveness to the mystery of God’s presence and power.
The effort to create and build community life in an ongoing fashion is central to supporting growth in living a Christian life. Periodic workshops bring the students together to promote self-knowledge and a deeper awareness of strengths and limitations, addressing issues such as self-esteem, conflict management, and healthy working relationships. During the course of the program, students have opportunities to develop:
• the capacity for self-acceptance and tolerance of the imperfections of others;
• the ability to work with others in a spirit of cooperation;
• a healthy personality: honest, sensitive communication, observance of professional boundaries, emotional stability, the ability to trust others, freedom from the need to control people and situations;
• recognition of and respect for authority, and the ability to exercise authority in an appropriate manner;
• competent leadership skills;
• conflict management skills;
• the capacity for empathy;
• self-awareness of the dynamics of human sexuality;
• a balanced commitment to family and to spiritual and recreational values for a holistic life; and
• a commitment to further self-development and professional enrichment.
The faculty formation adviser, in consultation with the student, will periodically make a formal assessment of the progress of the student in personal development and academic growth.
The goal of the pastoral formation component is to provide learning opportunities through experiential engagement in Church life and lay ministries. The students, who come with a wide range of ecclesial and ministerial experience, acquire skills in the design, implementation, and assessment of educational, spiritual, and social service programs in support of the mission of the Roman Catholic Church. Under the guidance of field supervisors, with built-in structures for reflection and professional skill-building seminars, the students are assisted in integrating their experience and preparing to collaborate in the mission of the Church. A field education placement will be arranged to include a minimum of four hours each week or 50 hours per semester of on-site experience and regular meetings with a supervisor for four semesters. Clinical Pastoral Education may replace the traditional parish/institution site. To fulfill credit requirements for field education, the following documentation must be submitted in a timely manner to the Director of Field Education: periodic formal evaluations by field education supervisors, attendance at the two Evenings of Formation with supervisors (including presentations of a critical incident), written monthly reflections, as well as any requested supplemental materials. Three credits are awarded per semester.
Periodically, a written formation advising form, reflecting on the progress of the student, must be filled out and signed by the formation advisor. In the two years of apostolic formation, the field education supervisor, following consultation with the student, is also required to submit evaluations to the Director of Field Education.