St. Mary's Seminary & University

Pre-Theology Program

St. Mary’s Seminary and University offers a pre-theology program for seminarians who lack the background necessary to pursue graduate-level theological work in preparation for priestly ministry. The pre-theology program fully integrates new seminarians into the seminary community and focuses on human formation through faculty involvement in spiritual direction, formation advising, and evaluation for priestly life and ministry. In most cases the pre-theology program requires two full years, though advanced standing can be granted at the mutual agreement of both the seminary and the sponsoring diocese. Seminarians who have already completed the entire pre-theology academic requirements, as enunciated in the current edition of the Program for Priestly Formation, but who have never been in a recognized program of priestly formation will be admitted into a one-year pre-theology program.

Academic formation in the pre-theology program is built around the requirements of the current edition of the Program for Priestly Formation: thirty (30) undergraduate credits in specified philosophical material, and twelve (12) undergraduate credits in specified studies, which provides a basic catechetical framework of Roman Catholic teaching. The pre-theology program, based upon admissions academic testing, offers educational support for seminarians whose basic academic skills need strengthening or who are non-native speakers of English. The pre-theology program, based upon credit audit, also offers supplemental liberal arts, humanities, and classical languages for seminarians who would benefit from such education. Seminarians in need of supplemental educational support or further liberal arts background will require a full two-year pre-theology program.

Specific spiritual formation in the pre-theology program focuses on helping a seminarian to develop a spiritual “core which unifies and gives life to his being a priest and his acting as a priest” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, #45) through reflection on Book IV of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and guided direction in the practice of meditation and interior prayer.

Pastoral formation in the pre-theology program occurs through direct ministry experiences with the poor and suffering as seminarians examine how and where God is present in such situations. Background is developed for future ministry through specific courses in media, rhetoric, and communication for pastors, as well as basic study of Pastoral Spanish.

Model Curriculum Schema

FALL I (1st Pre-theology)

  • Philosophical Anthropology
  • Ancient Philosophy
  • Introduction to Catholic Catechism I
  • Prayer and Priesthood I (1.5 credits)
  • Pastoral Communication I (1.5 credits)
  • Introduction to Philosophical Argumentation

SPRING I (1st Pre-theology)

  • Philosophical Ethics
  • Medieval and Modern Philosophy
  • Introduction to Catholic Catechism II
  • Prayer and Priesthood II (1.5 credits)
  • Pastoral Communication II (1.5 credits)

FALL II (2nd Pre-theology)

  • Epistemological Issues in Theology
  • Contemporary Issues in Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Nature
  • Ecclesiastical Latin I or Pastoral Spanish I

SPRING II (2nd Pre-theology)

  • Metaphysics
  • Introduction to Scripture
  • Philosophy of God
  • Ecclesiastical Latin II or Pastoral Spanish II