Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring, what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
by Rainer Maria Rilke Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29
The first stanza of Rilke’s sonnet could be applied to the initial sentiments many seminarians and students have as they begin their formation and study of theology under the bell tower of Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of theology at the Center for Pastoral Leadership. The bell tower stands high over the seminary complex ringing the hours of the days, weeks, months and years that are required for formation to take place. And as the sonnet suggests, those who arrive here in preparation for ministry may feel the battering that comes when they embrace the rigors required for formation. The theologians who hallow our halls realize that this type of formation requires change.
The three graduate degree programs offered by Saint Mary Seminary often have students “breathing for more space (and time)” to appreciate and value the depth and breadth their course of study requires as well as the change it will bring to the core of their beings.
The Master of Divinity Degree program introduces seminarians to the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral domains that require total integration. The program provides individualized discernment with formation advisors and spiritual directors that gradually lead seminarians to discover the clarity of their vocation through honest dialogue, prayer, liturgy, and encounter with Christ through the sacraments. In addition, a robust study of the theological sciences coupled with first-hand experiences in the field setting of the parish gradually changes a seminarian into a priest equipped to serve the People of God.
The Master of Arts Degree program leads students to embrace the theological disciplines that deepen their personal faith and help them come to a greater understanding of the person of Christ. Through further theological study, students broaden their roles as educators in the faith and are better able to minister to the people they serve. These students appreciate the collaborative nature of the ministry and grow in a greater understanding of their role in the Church today.
Finally, those already in ministry will discover through the Doctor of Ministry Degree program that the practical wisdom learned from ministry can be renewed through further theological reflection and collaboration with a learning community of peers. Every doctoral student has reported that through their pastoral projects goals, aims, methodology and findings they have changed as a minister and become a stronger leader for their faith communities.
May I extend an invitation to you to consider joining our learning community under the bell tower that rings the sounds of faith formation and change to serve the Lord with gladness!
Rev. Mark A. Latcovich, Ph.D.