St. John Vianney College seminary offers a special two-year Pre-theology program for students who begin priestly studies having already earned a bachelor's degree. This program's study of philosophy lays the groundwork for future study of theology.
What is unique about the Pre-Theology Program at St. John Vianney?
Seminary formation is ultimately geared towards forming kind, loving, and dedicated shepherds after the heart of Jesus, the Good Shepherd himself. Formation at St. John Vianney seeks to achieve this goal by laying a strong foundation on which the subsequent stages of formation are meant to build. This endeavor begins with a young man being given the opportunity - in a community of brothers dedicated to reflection, prayer and study - to "sit at the Master's feet", that is, to grow in understanding and appreciation of himself even as he is gradually initiated into a relationship of true discipleship and intimacy with Christ.
1. AN INTEGRAL human formation: Understanding and appreciating one's uniqueness
"God loves and cares for each one of us as if we were the only one in his care." (St. Augustine)
This is perhaps the single most significant area where a Pre-Theology Program in a College Seminary setting like St. John Vianney can truly contribute to the building of a strong foundation for a young man who has already obtained a college degree and who may already have a lot of life experience.
Most of those who enter a Pre-Theology Program are solid and mature men who prove to be excellent candidates for eventual theological studies and ordination. Still a number of them could benefit tremendously from (i) a certain “detox” from the world and secular society, (ii) a deepening of their knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of themselves and their unique strengths and challenges, (iii) being assisted in their understanding and appreciation of the blessings as well as challenges of celibate chastity, while (iv) still being in a setting that allows them to be truly affirmed as the older and more mature young men that they are, who have already accomplished important things in their lives, and who have made the decision to re-orient their life’s discernment towards the service of God and people.
The young men who are in the Pre-Theology Program at St. John Vianney become important witnesses to their undergraduate brothers who look up to them for inspiration and support – something which, in return, aids these Pre-Theologians in receiving that affirmation they need.
In a College Seminary setting thus, a kind of “symbiotic relationship” arises between older seminarians in the Pre-Theology Program and younger undergraduates. This bears tremendous promise in terms of the Human Formation, not only for the Pre-Theologians themselves, but the undergraduates students as well.
2. AN authentic spiritual formation: FALLING IN LOVE WITH A GOD WHO HAS LOVED US FIRST
"To fall in love with God is the greatest romance, to seek Him the greatest adventure, to find Him the greatest achievement." (Anonymous, often attributed to St. Augustine)
Most young men who begin formation at this stage in their life have an established prayer life, an adequate understanding of what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and a very basic knowledge of the life and teachings of the Church.
The Pre-Theology Program at St. John Vianney seeks to build on these simple and most basic foundations by allowing a college graduate who now begins his journey in formation to deepen his spirituality even further and to grow in his relationship with Christ.
St. John Vianney's Pre-Theology program also aims to allow the seminarian to deepen and expand his understanding of the Catholic Faith by introducing him to the uniqueness, breadth and all-encompassing character of the heart and mind of Catholicism.
3. A truly 'catholic' intellectual formation: Growing in love of god's truth wherever it is found
“All that is true, by whomsoever it has been said has its origin in the Holy Spirit". (St. Thomas Aquins)
The Pre-Theology Program at St. John Vianney sees intellectual formation at this stage in a young college graduate's life as a venue meant to prepare him to better understand and appreciate the intellectual, most especially the philosophical, foundations of Catholic Theology.
- As such, the academic component of St. John Vianney's Pre-Theology Program represents a “Study of Philosophy for Understanding Catholic Theology” – this is in keeping with the seminary's orientation (as envisioned by PDV and the present PPF) to form future pastors of the Church. Since even at this stage in his formation, everything a seminarian does is meant to prepare him to become a shepherd and minister of the Gospel, St. John Vianney's Pre-Theology Program envisions a closer relationship between Intellectual and Pastoral Formation.
The Pre-Theology Plan of Study at St. John Vianney
first year - fall semester
Course Title Credits
PHI 105 Logic and Introduction to Philosophy (3)
PHI 301a History of Philosophy: Ancient Philosophy (3)
PHI 301b History of Philosophy: Medieval Philosophy (3)
SPA 153 Spanish for Ministry I (3)
THE 255 Introduction to Sacred Scripture (3)
PMN 101 Introduction to Pastoral Ministry (1)
FIRST YEAR - SPRING SEMESTER
PHI 302a History of Philosophy: Modern Philosophy (3)
PHI 302b History of Philosophy: Contemporary Philosophy (3)
PHI 437 The Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas (3)
SPA 154 Spanish for Ministry II (3)
THE 256 Introduction to Sacred Scripture (3)
PMN 102 Introduction to Pastoral Ministry II (1)
SECOND YEAR - FALL SEMESTER
PHI 401 Philosophy of Being (Metaphysics) (3)
PHI 406 Philosophy of God (3)
PHI 460 Fundamental Ethics (3)
PHI 461 Catholic Social Ethics (3)
THE 417 Theology Seminar I (3)
SECOND YEAR - SPRING SEMESTER
PHI 404 Philosophical Anthropology (3)
PHI 405 Philosophy of Knowledge (Epistemology) (3)
PHI 407 Philosophy of Nature (3)
PHI 496 Integrative Seminar in Philosophy (3)
THE 418 Theology Seminar II (3)