The Goals and Objectives of the Seminary Academic Program - St. John's Seminary
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The Goals and Objectives of the Seminary Academic Program

Institutional Goal:

Toward the fulfillment of elements of the Mission Statement, an academic program has been designed inconformity with the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis of the Congregation for Catholic Education, The Program of Priestly Formation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis. (1)

The institutional goal of this academic program is to promote serious intellectual inquiry into and mastery of essential aspects of the Catholic religious tradition and of ways of living the Catholic faith in daily life.

Goal 1: that students understand and assimilate the Catholic faith as proposed and safeguarded by the Magisterium of the Church and that students understand and appreciate the task of theology by identifying the Catholic synthesis of faith and reason as the presupposition of the study of theology.


a. through the prerequisite study of philosophy and humanities;

b. through the work of pre-theology;

c. through the work of Fundamental Theology (TH501) as introducing students to this synthesis which is presupposed throughout the curriculum of theological courses.

Goal 2: that the students as Catholic believers acquire a basic competence with regard to the history of the Catholic Church and the content of its religious tradition.

Objective:through the design of the Master of Divinity/Baccalaureate of Sacred Theology curriculum with its substantial core requirements and Oral Comprehensive Examination.

Goal 3: that the students acquire a basic knowledge of the methodologies appropriate to the various disciplines.

Objective:through the presentation of these methodologies — exegesis, historical criticism, systematic analysis, and applied learning — in the courses of the core curriculum.

Goal 4: that the students practice the methodologies presented.


a. through the core curriculum and Oral Comprehensive Examination;

b. through required electives in certain areas (Biblical, Systematic, Moral);

c. through the Master of Arts (Theology) program when elected by qualified students.

Goal 5: that the students acquire the Catholic understanding of the Christian meaning of human existence as an essential element in their vocational discernment and as an important element in their preparation for the ministry of word, sacrament, and pastoral care.


a. by recognizing the pastoral dimension of theology, especially through theology’s engagement with the concerns of human existence;

b. by experiencing contemporary people’s lives in Pastoral Formation programs and in summer programs, and in fulfilling the Pastoral Language Certificate;

c. by discovering the connection between life and theology since theology interprets what occurs in life;

d. by taking into consideration their own experience, interests, and needs as persons;

e. by appreciating present-day social, political, environmental, moral, and ecclesial issues in their relation to the Christian faith.

Goal 6: that the students recognize that the question of the Christian meaning of human existence should continue to occupy them for a lifetime.


a. by understanding that the question of that Christian meaning should stimulate their study;

b. by understanding that the question of that Christian meaning should sustain their prayer;

c. by understanding that the question of that Christian meaning should guide their pastoral work.

Goal 7: that the students appreciate the ecumenical and interreligious dimensions of theology and pastoral ministry.


a. by becoming acquainted with the history and teachings of the Christian communities, the history of ecumenism, and the theological principles which serve as a foundation of ecumenism;

b. by understanding the relationship of the Church to other Christian religions, as well as to Judaism;

c. by participating in programs and courses of the Boston MAM/MTS Programs.

Goal 8: that the students acquire the skills and knowledge which are required to communicate the Catholic message effectively in their preaching and teaching.


a. by taking courses in homiletics and by preaching publicly;

b. by offering catechetical instruction;

c. by taking the Pastoral Language Certificate Program;

d. by developing the lifetime habit of study, non-theological as well as theological.


(1) The Program of Priestly Formation. Fifth ed. (Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006) nos. 136–235.

(2) The expression “the Catholic understanding of the Christian meaning of human existence” indicates that the contents of the Catholic faith and the common interpretation of it provide the interpretation of one’s own and others’ existence.