Seminary

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Seminary, school of theology, theological seminary, and divinity school are educational institutions for educating students (sometimes called seminarians) in scripture, theology, generally to prepare them for ordination to serve as clergy, in academics, or in Christian ministry. [1] The English word is taken from the Latin seminarium, translated as seed-bed, an image taken from the Council of Trent document Cum adolescentium aetas which called for the first modern seminaries. [2] In the West, the term now refers to Catholic educational institutes and has widened to include other Christian denominations and American Jewish institutions. [3] [4]

Theology Study of the nature of deities and religious belief

Theology is the critical study of the nature of the divine, and more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the supernatural, but also especially with epistemology, and asks and seeks to answer the question of revelation. Revelation pertains to the acceptance of God, gods, or deities, as not only transcendent or above the natural world, but also willing and able to interact with the natural world and, in particular, to reveal themselves to humankind. While theology has turned into a secular field, religious adherents still consider theology to be a discipline that helps them live and understand concepts such as life and love and that helps them lead lives of obedience to the deities they follow or worship.

Ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination vary by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is undergoing the process of ordination is sometimes called an ordinand. The liturgy used at an ordination is sometimes referred to as an ordination.

In Christianity, ministry is an activity carried out by Christians to express or spread their faith, the prototype being the Great Commission. The Encyclopedia of Christianity defines it as "carrying forth Christ's mission in the world", indicating that it is "conferred on each Christian in baptism." It is performed by all Christians. This is distinguished from the "office of minister", to which specific individuals who feel a certain vocation. It can signify this activity as a whole, or specific activities, or organizations within a church dedicated to specific activities. Some ministries are identified formally as such, and some are not; some ministry is directed towards members of the church, and some towards non-members. See also Apostolates.

Contents

In the US, the term is currently used for graduate-level institutions, but historically it was used for high schools.

History

The establishment of modern seminaries resulted from Roman Catholic reforms of the Counter-Reformation after the Council of Trent. [5] The Tridentine seminaries placed great emphasis on personal discipline as well as the teaching of philosophy as a preparation for theology. [6]

Counter-Reformation Catholic political and religious response to the Protestant Reformation

The Counter-Reformation, also called the Catholic Reformation or the Catholic Revival, was the period of Catholic resurgence that was initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation. It began with the Council of Trent (1545–1563) and largely ended with the 1781 Patent of Toleration, although smaller expulsions of Protestants continued into the 19th century. Initiated to preserve the power, influence and material wealth enjoyed by the Catholic Church and to present a theological and material challenge to Reformation, the Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort composed of apologetic and polemical documents, ecclesiastical reconfiguration as decreed by the Council of Trent, a series of wars, political maneuvering including the efforts of Imperial Diets of the Holy Roman Empire, exiling of Protestant populations, confiscation of Protestant children for Catholic institutionalized upbringing, heresy trials and the Inquisition, anti-corruption efforts, spiritual movements, and the founding of new religious orders.

Council of Trent Synod

The Council of Trent, held between 1545 and 1563 in Trent, was the 19th ecumenical council of the Catholic Church. Prompted by the Protestant Reformation, it has been described as the embodiment of the Counter-Reformation.

Current Catholic practice

Seminaries in the Catholic Church are divided into minor seminaries for teenagers and major seminaries for young adults, including both college seminaries for undergraduate students and post-graduate seminaries for those who already have a bachelor's degree. There are also seminaries for older adults who are well out of school, such as the Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Massachusetts, and for other more specialized purposes.

Minor seminary

A minor seminary or high school seminary is a secondary day or boarding school created for the specific purpose of enrolling teenage boys who have expressed interest in becoming Catholic priests. They are generally Catholic institutions, and designed to prepare boys both academically and spiritually for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. They emerged in cultures and societies where literacy was not universal, and the minor seminary was seen as a means to prepare younger boys in literacy for later entry into the major seminary.

Bachelors degree Undergraduate academic degree

A bachelor's degree or baccalaureate is an undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study lasting three to seven years. In some institutions and educational systems, some bachelor's degrees can only be taken as graduate or postgraduate degrees after a first degree has been completed. In countries with qualifications frameworks, bachelor's degrees are normally one of the major levels in the framework, although some qualifications titled bachelor's degrees may be at other levels and some qualifications with non-bachelor's titles may be classified as bachelor's degrees.

Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary

Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary is a Roman Catholic seminary in Weston, Massachusetts. It offers a graduate-level program designed for priesthood candidates aged 30 and above, often called "second-career vocations" or "delayed vocations".

All seminaries are run either by religious orders or by dioceses or other similar structures. Often a seminary will train both that particular order's or diocese's priests and the priests of other orders or dioceses that select that particular seminary for its priests. For instance, Saint John's Seminary in Boston, Massachusetts trains priests for many of the other dioceses in New England who are suffragan dioceses of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

A religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder's religious practice. The order is composed of laypeople and, in some orders, clergy. Religious orders exist in many of the world's religions.

Diocese Christian district or see under the supervision of a bishop

The word diocese is derived from the Greek term dioikesis (διοίκησις) meaning "administration". Today, when used in an ecclesiastical sense, it refers to the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop.

Saint Johns Seminary (Massachusetts)

Saint John's Seminary, located in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, is a Catholic major seminary sponsored by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

Often a diocese might be attached to or affiliated with a larger Catholic college or university so that the larger college and its faculty provides more general education in history or theology while the seminary focuses on topics specific to the needs of future priests, such as training in canon law, the sacraments, and preaching, or specific to the particular order or diocese. For instance the Theological College in Washington, D.C. is part of The Catholic University of America.

Canon law is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of a Christian organization or church and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law, or operational policy, governing the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the individual national churches within the Anglican Communion. The way that such church law is legislated, interpreted and at times adjudicated varies widely among these three bodies of churches. In all three traditions, a canon was originally a rule adopted by a church council; these canons formed the foundation of canon law.

Sacrament sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance

A sacrament is a Christian rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites. Many Christians consider the sacraments to be a visible symbol of the reality of God, as well as a means by which God enacts his grace. Many denominations, including the Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Reformed, hold to the definition of sacrament formulated by Augustine of Hippo: an outward sign of an inward grace that has been instituted by Jesus Christ. Sacraments signify God's grace in a way that is outwardly observable to the participant.

Theological College (The Catholic University of America)

Theological College is the national Roman Catholic diocesan seminary located in Washington, D.C. The seminary is affiliated with The Catholic University of America. The seminary is owned and administered by priests of the Society of Saint-Sulpice. It was founded in 1917.

Further, in Rome there are several seminaries who educate seminarians or already ordained priests and bishops and which are maintained by orders or dioceses from outside of Italy. For instance, the Pontifical North American College, which trains priests from the United States and elsewhere, is supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Pontifical North American College

The Pontifical North American College is a Roman Catholic educational institution in Rome, Italy, that forms seminarians for priestly ministry in the dioceses of the United States and elsewhere, and that provides a residence for priests from the United States and elsewhere who are pursuing graduate studies or continuing formation programs in Rome. Oversight of the college is the responsibility of the Holy See's Congregation for the Clergy, which is delegated for most matters to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops acting through the college's episcopal board of governors.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops organization

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is the episcopal conference of the Catholic Church in the United States. Founded in 1966 as the joint National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and United States Catholic Conference (USCC), it is composed of all active and retired members of the Catholic hierarchy in the United States and the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands. In the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the bishops in the six dioceses form their own episcopal conference, the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference. The bishops in U.S. insular areas in the Pacific Ocean – the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Territory of American Samoa, and the Territory of Guam – are members of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific.

Accreditation and recognition

In North America, four entities that accredit religious schools in particular are recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation: Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools, Association for Biblical Higher Education, Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, and Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. [7]

Other uses of the term

In general use, a seminary can be a secular institution, or part of an institution, designated for specialized training, e.g. a graduate course. [3] It has occasionally been used for military academies, though this use is not well attested after the nineteenth century. [3]

In some countries, the term seminary is also used for secular schools of higher education that train teachers; in the nineteenth century, many female seminaries were established in the United States. [8]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church or the Mormons) hosts seminary classes for high school students ages 14 to 18, as part of the Church Educational System. Unlike use in other religious contexts, the word "seminary", in an LDS Church context, does not refer to a higher education program designed to train students that they may obtain a church-based career. [9] LDS seminary students do not get high school credit for their seminary studies.

See also

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Newman Theological College (NTC) is a Roman Catholic school of theology founded in 1969 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, Alberta.

References

  1. "Seminary". Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. Archived from the original on 2014-12-26. Retrieved 2014-12-01.
  2. XXIII Session, Council of Trent, ch. XVIII. Retrieved from J. Waterworth, ed. (1848). The Canons and Decrees of the Sacred and Oecumenical Council of Trent. London: Dolman. pp. 170–92. Retrieved June 16, 2009.
  3. 1 2 3 "Seminary, n.1". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). 1989.
  4. "History". The Jewish Theological Seminary. Retrieved April 15, 2011.
  5. Glazier, Michael; Hellwig, Monika, eds. (2004). "Ecumenical Councils to Trent". The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia. Collegeville, Michigan: Liturgical Press. p. 263. ISBN   978-0-8146-5962-5.
  6. Rose, Michael S. (2002). Goodbye, Good Men. Regnery Publishing. pp. 217–25. ISBN   0-89526-144-8.
  7. "Accreditation in the United States: Specialized Accreditation Agencies". U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved October 23, 2009.
  8. "The Rise of Women's Colleges, Coeducation". The Women's College Coalition. Retrieved June 24, 2011.
  9. Mauss, Armand L. (2003). All Abraham's Children. University of Illinois Press. pp. 84–85. ISBN   978-0-252-02803-8 . Retrieved 2008-09-12.