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School of Theology and Ministry

History

school of theology and ministry

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The Boston College School of Theology and Ministry was formed on June 1, 2008, when the former Weston Jesuit School of Theology and the Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry joined to offer a full array of ministerial and theological courses and degrees. Both a graduate divinity school and an ecclesiastical faculty of theology regulated by the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana (1979), the school offers both master and doctoral degrees, civil and ecclesiastical degrees, and a wide variety of continuing education offerings, including online programs through C21 Online.

Weston College opened in 1922 as a faculty of philosophy for the New England Province of the Society of Jesus. The faculty of theology was added in 1927 to prepare men for ordination. The school was incorporated by an act of the Massachusetts legislature in 1929 and in 1932 was empowered by a papal charter to grant ecclesiastical degrees.

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In 1956, New Testament Abstracts began publication. Currently online, it is perhaps the most widely consulted New Testament journal in the world.

In 1959, Weston College was designated a constituent college within the university structure of Boston College. In the 1960s, the New England Province purchased homes in Brighton and philosophy courses were moved out of Weston College into the Philosophy Department at Boston College. Jesuit students became part of the university community in Chestnut Hill and received master’s degrees from Boston College for their course work. The men preparing for ordination were enrolled in courses with non-ordination candidates as they completed their philosophy studies.

In the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, in 1967, Weston College joined with Boston College and five other theological institutions to form the Boston Theological Institute (BTI). For the first time, Weston College matriculated students in its theology programs who were not members of the Jesuit order.

In 1968, Weston College moved its campus and residences to Cambridge, adjacent to the Episcopal Divinity School in order to allow its students greater access to the services of the BTI, to engage the culture more directly, and to make its offerings available to a wider public. Weston College also became one of the first three Catholic schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in 1968.

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In 1971, Boston College opened a summer Institute of Religious Education and Service. During its early years, the Institute primarily served priests and vowed religious women and men from throughout the New England region to study religious education and related forms of service. Its first degree program was an M.Ed. in Religious Education, offered in conjunction with the Boston College School of Education.

In 1972, Weston College enrolled its first lay students in degree programs.

In 1974, Weston College ceased to be a constituent college of BC and changed its named to Weston School of Theology. That same year, the Institute added an academic year component to its summer offerings.

The Institute awarded its first degree in 1975.

In 1977, the Institute introduced an interdisciplinary doctorate in Religion and Education. It introduced its Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry the next year, and, in 1979, changed its name to the Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry (IREPM).

Through the 1980s and 1990s, the IREPM introduced a variety of concentrations within its M.A. in Pastoral Ministry and collaborated with other professional graduate schools at Boston College to provide interdisciplinary dual degrees.

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In 1994, Weston School of Theology changed its name to Weston Jesuit School of Theology to underline its Jesuit connection.

By the time IREPM and Weston Jesuit School of Theology entered the 21st century, there had been significant shifts in their student populations. Programs that initially enrolled ordained and vowed religious were now just as likely to enroll members of the laity preparing for lay ecclesial ministry. Programs that once catered to a New England audience had become increasingly international in nature. In short, the programs reflected the changing face of ministry in the Church.  As the needs of ministry changed, so the schools that prepared students for ministry changed, grew, and adapted. It was in this spirit that the new School of Theology and Ministry was formed.

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In Fall 2011, the IREPM changed its name to the Department of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry and Weston Jesuit changed its name to the Ecclesiastical Faculty in order to better represent their statuses at Boston College.