Lay Ecclesial Formation
Mount St. Mary’s Seminary & School of Theology offers one of the first and most respected lay ecclesial formation programs in the United States. Participants come from all walks of life, maintaining work and family commitments while preparing for new opportunities.
The mission of the Lay Ecclesial Formation program at MTSM is to provide participants with the experiences they need to become more effective ministers, to encourage others to grow in their faith and minister to others, and to minister with creativity and adaptability to the evolving needs of Church and society.
It is the whole person who ministers, so the whole person is the proper subject of formation.
Participants engage their hearts, minds, hands and spirits as they grow through:
- Academic coursework in theology, doctrine, scripture and pastoral studies
- Mentoring with an experienced minister to foster discernment and learning integration
- Field Education that provides a supervised experience of skills development
- Theological Reflection connecting lived experience with scripture, tradition and theology
- Project/Capstone offering leadership experience in pastoral planning
- Advisors who guide and support
- A community of faith and learning that fosters prayer, spiritual growth and life-long friendships.
In order to accomplish this mission, the program focuses on the four pillars of formation for lay ministers as identified in Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord (USCCB, 2005). This document serves as a resource for diocesan bishops and for all others who are responsible for guiding the development of lay ecclesial ministry in the United States. These four pillars – intellectual formation, pastoral formation, spiritual formation and human formation – provide the framework for the program components, which include academics, mentoring, field education, theological reflection, the Project in Ministry/Capstone Project, a required yearly retreat and optional continuing education and spiritual formation opportunities. Through the program, participants are led into a deepened understanding and appreciation for the tradition which is the basis of their contribution to the mission of the Church. They are challenged to consider mature faith questions and to develop a stance and a spirituality supportive of their role as lay ministers.
Within the Lay Ecclesial Formation Program emphasis is placed upon an integrated approach to the formation of lay ministers. Although individual program components are focused toward specific dimensions of ministerial competency, the total program experience is designed to support the development of the whole person as minister.
Three program tracks are available within the Lay Ecclesial Formation Program leading to one of the following degrees or certificates: a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry (MAPM), a Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Ministry, and a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry. The MAPM requirements can be completed in three years, and are designed to provide participants with both theological knowledge and competency in various ministerial activities. Intended for those who have some experience in ministerial service, the curriculum builds on that experience through courses on the central issues of faith as well as on skills for ministerial practice. Certificate requirements can be completed in two years and are designed to provide participants with the balance of academics, ministerial skill-building, and spiritual growth necessary to the roles and responsibilities of the various volunteer pastoral ministries of the contemporary Church.
Graduates serve the larger Church as parish staff members and volunteers, teachers, catechists, permanent deacons, chaplains and volunteers in pastoral care settings, non-profit agency staff members and volunteers, informed parents, and everyday evangelists.
Graduate degrees offered by Mount St. Mary’s Seminary & School of Theology are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.
The Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry (MAPM) is both academic and pastoral in approach, and provides the core theology courses from the MAT in conjunction with ministerial formation. This program is intended for people who want to integrate theology and practice. Program requirements include coursework, mentoring, supervised field education, theological reflections, and a capstone ministry project. Click here for more information.
The Graduate Certificate is offered at the main campus and includes core theology courses along with spiritual, ministerial and personal formation that integrate theology and practice. A 4-year undergraduate college degree is required for admission. It is an excellent option for those who want to engage in theological and pastoral studies at the graduate level, but who may not want or need to complete a full M.A. degree. Click here for more information.
The Certificate in Pastoral Ministry is offered at the main campus and at satellite locations rotating through the Archdiocese on a two-year basis. It includes basic theology courses along with spiritual, ministerial and personal formation designed to integrate theology and practice. The Certificate requires a High School Diploma or GED for admission. Click here for more information.
Admission to the Master of Arts, Pastoral Ministry (MAPM) or Graduate Certificate requires a four year undergraduate degree in any area of study. Admission to the Certificate in Pastoral Ministry requires a High School diploma or GED.
- Participate regularly in the sacraments and life of the Church
- Engage in daily prayer
- Have a desire to serve others
- Be emotionally mature with the capacity for growth
- Value collaboration with priests, permanent deacons and other lay men and women
- Be at least 25 years of age (age exceptions may occur for staff-level ministers and those holding an undergraduate degree in theology or pastoral studies)
The application process includes:
- the School of Theology Application
- $30 Application Fee
- two letters of recommendation, including one from your canonical pastor
- prior college transcripts (for MAPM and Graduate Certificate)
- interview with the Director of Lay Ecclesial Formation
- spiritual autobiography
- School of Theology Application Supplement for Lay Ecclesial Formation
- MBTI assessment ($150)
The Admissions & Degrees Committee meets to review submitted applications a few times each year. Applicants will be notified of admissions decisions after the Admissions & Degrees Committee reviews and votes on each application.
To be admitted before the start of Fall Semester, applications should be submitted by July 1.
To be admitted before the start of Spring Semester, applications should be submitted by November 1.
Visit the Admissions homepage for more information.
Accessibility to School of Theology programs is a high priority. Graduate courses meet at the main campus weeknights and Saturday morning. Certificate courses are held at the main campus and satellite locations that rotate throughout the Archdiocese. The satellite location for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 academic years is the St. Charles Center in Carthagena.