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Outcomes for M.A., Pastoral Ministry

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The Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry program prepares students for competent leadership in a specialized ministry in the Catholic Church. The program strives to provide the student with both a theological education and specialized training in a chosen field of ministerial engagement.

The primary focus of each student’s course work is in Pastoral Theology.  Beyond this, each student’s education and training also draws from the Departments of Biblical Studies, Church History, Moral Theology, and Systematic Theology.  The purpose of each department is listed below, as well as specific learning outcomes for students taking courses in that area:

Department of Pastoral Theology

The Department of Pastoral Theology focuses especially on the varied areas of pastoral ministry that are the responsibility of parish priests, and the specific areas of pastoral ministry that are the responsibility of lay ecclesial ministers. The scope is wide, including, for example, celebration of the sacraments, preaching, pastoral care and teaching. Study of these areas includes relevant theoretical knowledge and requisite skills, as well as integration with the varied academic domains of theology.

Student Learning Outcomes:
The basic objectives for the required and elective courses are all focused toward competent performance of ministry. Students preparing for ordination will know how to celebrate liturgy and the sacraments, provide pastoral care and spiritual guidance, teach the faith, guide the justice and service activities of a community and provide leadership for varied ministries. Students pursuing a pastoral ministry degree should be able to perform the pastoral duties specified in their program of study. In doing ministry, they need to be able to draw upon the varied areas of theology to ground their work, and keep it focused on a transcendent goal.

Department of Biblical Studies

The purpose of the department of Biblical Studies is to contribute to the mission of ICSST, the School of Theology of Seton Hall University, accredited by ATS, by providing a biblical education according to Roman Catholic standards, primarily with a view to preparing students for service in pastoral ministry. The course-related services include the provision of instruction in the 6 core courses stipulated by the PPF5:   3 Old Testament courses on the Pentateuch, Prophets and Wisdom and Psalms;   3 New Testament courses on the Synoptic Gospels, Pauline Literature and Johannine Literature.  These services also include provision of instruction in biblical electives and biblical languages: Greek and Hebrew.

Student Learning Outcomes:
The basic objectives of our required and elective courses are to endow the students with the degree of familiarity with the Scriptures mandated by PPF5 as this sense is explained in Roman Catholic guidelines for the understanding of Scripture (particularly the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum of the Second Vatican Council, 1965; and the and the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, 2010).   By the end of each course the student ought to advance in knowing and understanding the “literal sense” of the scriptures studied, i.e. the senses intended by their “human authors.”  The understanding of these senses is meant to build up, along with other programs in ICSST, the student’s skill in the following four areas: 

  1. Compose a research paper and teach a Scripture-study lesson on a particular book or theme.

  2. Preach a homily on the lectionary readings which explains the texts, their relation to each other, to the season or feast, and to the lives of the Christian faithful.

  3. Catechize biblically by explaining Catholic doctrine from Scripture or the relationship of doctrine to Scripture and answering apologetic questions about Scripture.

  4. Using Scripture in pastoral counseling and for spiritual nourishment.

Department of Church History

The purpose of this department is to insure that each student grows in their knowledge of the history of the Catholic Church. It endeavors to enable the student to distinguish the divine and human elements in the Church and to understand the underlying causes of events and developments within the Church through a discernment of the interaction between the Church and the world. Through critical analysis of primary source documents and later commentaries, the student grows in an understanding of issues that affect the contemporary Church and thereby becomes a more effective pastoral minister.

Student Learning Outcomes:
The department introduces the student to the length and breadth of two thousand years of ecclesiastical history throughout the world and gives special attention to the history of the Church in the Americas.  The student masters the progress of evangelization, its difficulties, challenges, failures, and successes.  The student also clearly recognizes the impact of non-ecclesiastical factors and forces on ecclesiastical history.

Through the required courses, the student will be able to critically analyze contemporary challenges and opportunities for the Church and its evangelical mission through a reflection on the experience of the past.

The elective courses will lead the student to a profound understanding of specific aspects of the Church’s history, for example, the papal office, the ecumenical councils, the liturgy, and the artistic and architectural contributions of the Church to civilization.

Department of Moral Theology

The purpose of the moral theology department is to prepare students for ministry in the Church so that he not only understands and accepts the moral teachings of the Church but is able to proclaim and explain them to all people, especially the faithful.  It seeks to show that these teachings are based on Natural Law and Revelation and are mediated to the faithful through the Church’s Magisterium.  It further seeks to teach the student how to think with the Church in dealing with moral issues so that he can help all people, especially the faithful, to attain salvation.

Student Learning Outcomes:
That students will understand the moral teachings of the Church and be able to give assent to it on the basis of reason and/or religious belief and/or faith itself.

That students will learn the fundamentals of ethical and theological reasoning so that they can fulfill the requirements of properly informing their own consciences and of following their own consciences and so that they can help people, especially the faithful, to do the same in order to attain salvation.

That students will be able to understand how the Church thinks ethically and theologically when it comes to moral issues in general and specifically when it comes to matters of physical and psychological health, sexual matters regarding relationships and procreation, and matters of justice and charity in the world.  

That the students will have practiced applying the ethical and theological teachings of the Church to some concrete issues, with the view of their acquiring a skill in doing so.

Department of Systematic Theology

The purpose of this department is to present in systematic, that is, in logical and comprehensive, fashion the principal doctrinal themes in Roman Catholic Theology.  And thus we offer in logical sequence the following 3 credit courses devoted to the principal themes of Roman Catholic theology:   “Faith and Revelation,” “Christian Anthropology,”  “Trinity,” “Christology,” “Ecclesiology.”   Additional courses are offered in sacramental and liturgical theology.  In addition to these courses, a wide variety of elective courses are also offered each semester.

Student Learning Outcomes:
The basic objective of our required and elective courses is to present to our students the three basic components of a doctrinal theme:  its scriptural basis, the development of this theme in time, that is, its historical development in the history of theology, and, finally, a logical analysis of the intellectual content of this doctrinal theme.   By the end of each course the student ought to be able to present to others a cogent narrative of the contents just outlined.