school of theology and ministry
M.Div. students participate in a comprehensive program of formation that expresses the STM’s commitment to the formation of the whole person for effective ministry. For lay students, the development of a formation portfolio under the guidance of a Spiritual Formation advisor fulfills the degree requirements for formation. For students who are members of religious orders or candidates for ordination, participation in the formation program of a religious order or diocese fulfills this requirement.
The program of formation for lay students is overseen by members of the Spiritual Formation Committee, a standing committee of the Academic Council. Each student will meet with a member of the committee who will serve as the student's spiritual formation advisor. The spiritual formation advisor will meet with the student during the first semester of each academic year to explain and coordinate the formation process.
The formation program for each student will be flexible, while addressing the standards approved by the U.S. bishops in the National Certification Standards for Lay Ecclesial Ministry (National Association for Lay Ministry, National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, and National Conference for Catechetical Leadership):
- personal and spiritual maturity;
- lay ecclesial ministry identity;
- Catholic theology;
- pastoral praxis; and
- professional praxis.
Students consult with their spiritual formation advisor to plan a process of suitable spiritual formation to address area (1). They consult with their academic advisors to plan a suitable course of studies to address area (3). They consult with the Professor of Pastoral Care and Contextual Education to plan pastoral courses and ministerial placements to address areas (2, 4, and 5). The student’s spiritual formation advisor maintains oversight of the whole process and will verify to the department chair when each student has fulfilled the formation requirement for graduation.
Students are expected to be proactive, adult learners who, with the advice of their advisors, will be able to choose among multiple options to develop an appropriate formation program. Students will keep a formation portfolio to document their participation in, completion of, and reflection upon various elements of their formation process.
M.Ed. and M.A. in Pastoral Ministry
M.Ed. and M.A. students participate in the one-credit Holistic Formation program (TM 730). This program consists of two parts: a Holistic Formation group and a Spiritual Formation Plan. During the first year or summer of studies, students participate in small groups facilitated by experienced facilitators, which allow them to integrate spiritual growth with their academic work in a supportive and prayerful atmosphere. During the academic year, the groups meet six times per semester; during the summer, groups meet once each week. At the end of the year or summer, students receive a J grade (extended incomplete) until they have fulfilled the components of their Spiritual Formation Plan.
Students are required to create a personalized Spiritual Formation Plan (SFP) as a component of the Holistic Formation experience. A student creates a Spiritual Formation Plan in consultation with one’s academic advisor and one’s Holistic Formation facilitator. Students may fulfill the components of their SFP during the duration of degree program at STM.
The purpose of the SFP is to establish a habitus of spiritual practice, one which is discerned and consciously chosen, one that corresponds with the uniqueness of persons and establishes a solid spiritual foundation for reflective ministry. Students choose and complete ONE OPTION from TWO of THREE AREAS during the course of their studies.
- Spiritual Direction (six month experience or more)
- Retreat experience (e.g., STM retreat, silent directed retreat, guided retreat, annotated Exercises of St. Ignatius)
- Immersion experience (STM or equivalent)
- Intentional Christian community experience
- Monthly volunteer experience with journal reflection (six month experience or more)
- Spirituality and the arts experience with journal reflection (six month experience or more)
- Liturgical Preaching and Presiding workshop (CE)
- Ways of Christian Prayer workshop (CE)
- Navigating Spiritual Paths for the Parish and Pastoral Minister workshop (CE)
- Participation in STM Faith and Justice Committee with journal reflection (one semester)
- Participation in the STM Liturgy Committee with journal reflection (one semester)
- Boston College Women's Resource Center Volunteer with journal reflection (six month experience or more)