Master of Arts in Ministry

“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 St. 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, p. 64)

The Master of Arts in Ministry Program encompasses the vision and four aspects of lay formation as Pope Saint John Paul II articulated in Christifidelis Laici.

Academic Program: a core curriculum of eleven courses and two electives;

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 of 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, followed by breakfast, networking and two workshops: one in human formation and one 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 non-resident 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:

  1. 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;
  2. That students grow in personal and spiritual maturity for a deeper appropriation of the gospel of Jesus Christ;
  3. That students acquire a general knowledge and understanding of the Catholic Tradition;
  4. That students develop their capacity for analytical and constructive theological reflection pertaining to public work in parishes and other ecclesial institutions;
  5. 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;
  6. 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” (Lumen Gentium, 31).

Academic Formation

The academic program can be completed in a minimum of two years. It consists of a curriculum of at least thirty-seven academic credits. Eleven core courses cover the disciplines of philosophy, systematic theology, Scripture, Church history, sacramental theology, and moral theology. In addition, two electives, including one in spirituality, and another in an area supportive of future ministry, complete the academic requirements. Electives may be taken at any of the schools in the Boston Theological Institute in areas that pertain to the life and mission of the Catholic Church, with the approval of the Associate Academic Dean. There are also twelve Field Education credits.

NOTE: Two electives in addition to the courses listed below are required over the course of the MAM Program. Two-credit electives are offered each summer.

A typical sequence for a full-time M.A.M. degree student would be as follows:

Year One- Fall Semester

PH500 Faith and Reason (3)
TH500 Fundamental Theology (3)
OT500 Old Testament (3)

Year Two- Fall Semester

MT500 Moral Theology (3)
MM500 Canon Law (3)
THPT500 New Evangelization/Pastoral Theology (3)

Year One- Spring Semester

CH500 Church History (3)
NT500 New Testament (3)
TH516 Christology/Trinity (3)

Year Two- Spring Semester

ST500 Liturgy and the Sacraments (3)
TH551 Ecclesiology (3)

Spiritual Formation

Spiritual formation, conducted individually 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 and supplements classes with individual spiritual direction 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, individual spiritual direction, annual retreats, and monthly prayer and formation meetings. There are also opportunities for evening prayer on a weekly basis and the chapel is available for individual and group prayer. The formation program offers many informal opportunities to share and witness to the faith, supplementing formal learning.

The Master of Arts in Ministry student is assisted in his or her formation by an approved spiritual director. Through frequent conversation with his or her director, the student has the opportunity to grow in self-knowledge, to understand better the desires of his or her heart, and to respond more generously to the mystery of God’s grace in order to conform him or herself more closely to Christ. Monthly formation workshops provide opportunities to learn methods of prayer and to deepen attentiveness to the mystery of God’s presence and power. An annual class retreat at the opening of the school year and individually scheduled retreats during the school year are also key elements of a solid spiritual life, and thus are required of students.

Human Formation

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. The faculty formation adviser, in consultation with the student, will periodically make a formal assessment of the progress of the student in personal development. 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.

Apostolic Formation

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.

Student Assessment

Periodically, a written formation advising form, reflecting on the progress of the student, must be filled out and signed by the formation advisor. These forms should then be submitted to the Administrative Assistant of the M.A.M. Program. 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.