STM Values

As part of STM's strategic planning process and in line with the vision of STM for the next 10 years, committees comprised of students, faculty, and staff articulated a set of core values. Inspired by the vision and practice of Jesus Christ and grounded in the Ignatian tradition, STM will educate a generation of theological and ministerial leaders who embody these values:

Forming Christian leaders for a variety of academic and ecclesial contexts and for faith-based service

Engaging in scholarship, critical thinking, and the practices of prayer and discernment

Forging collaborative communities of learning and worship

Making accessible the richness of the Catholic and Jesuit theological and spiritual traditions

Celebrating inclusivity and respect for difference, and constructive engagement with diversity, including interreligious and ecumenical encounters

Boston College Seal

An Ignatian Approach to Study

At the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, students, faculty and staff share in the privilege of engaging in whole-person formation for ministry, teaching, and service rooted in faith. Drawing on the Ignatian spiritual and educational tradition assists us in meeting the challenge of the Magis: to be ever more attentive, reflective, and loving women and men for others as we engage in the serious study of theology--understood as “faith seeking understanding” (St. Anselm).

To meet the challenges of graduate theological and ministerial studies in such a formational context, we offer an approach to study that draws on significant themes in the Ignatian tradition.

Discernment and Freedom

The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit. All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily. As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons....Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God’s life in me.
—St. Ignatius of Loyola, “Principle and Foundation,” Spiritual Exercises #23 (translation by David Fleming, S.J.)

A distinctive characteristic of Jesuit education is the commitment to school the mind and the heart to see God in all things, learning to distinguish those choices that lead to God from those that lead away from God. The art and skills of discernment play a central role in sensitizing our minds and hearts to imagine God’s desires for the world so that as individuals in community we can work for a world of justice and peace. A spirit of deep freedom must ground this life stance so that the individual and the community desire only what God desires. We are called to respond in generosity and trust, creativity and courage, humility and love, to collaborate with God in serving the needs of the peoples of the world.

Presuming Good Will

“Presupposition: That both the giver and the maker of the Spiritual Exercises may be of greater help and bene t to each other, it should be presupposed that every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor’s statement than to condemn it. Further, if one cannot interpret it favorably, one should ask how the other means it.”
—St. Ignatius of Loyola, “Presupposition,” Spiritual Exercises #22 (translation by George E. Ganss, S.J.)

This statement of St. Ignatius can be applied not only to the interaction between a spiritual director and someone making the Exercises, but also to ordinary conversations and to interaction within the classroom. We recognize the passion and depth of conviction that all at the STM bring to the study of theology and ministry and presuppose the good will of our teachers and fellow students. In keeping with the spirit of generosity and trust, we are called to discover the truth as a community of learners so as to follow Christ and serve God’s people and the world.

Learned Ministry

To “provide for the edifice of learning, and of skill in employing it so as to help make God our Creator and Lord better known and served.”
—Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, par. 307, quoted in Kolvenbach, “Jesuit University in the Light of the Ignatian Charism,” in Ignatian Pedagogy: Classic and Contemporary Texts on Jesuit Education from St. Ignatius to Today (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2017), paragraph 7.

In Ignatian spirituality, God and the world, faith and reason, are never opposed to one another; rather God is to be found in the world for those who know how to study and discern God’s ways. Since all truth comes from God, we should have the courage to pursue the truth through academic rigor. Therefore learned ministry calls us to critical thinking about faith, history, doctrine, Scripture, pastoral realities, and the signs of our times, with appreciation for all areas of human inquiry, which is essential to being ministers who can faithfully lead God’s people in a just engagement with the world.

Contemplative Imagination

“A long, loving look at the real. From such contemplation comes communion. I mean the discovery of the Holy in deep, thoughtful encounters—with God’s creation, with God’s people, with God’s self.”
—Walter Burghardt, S.J., “Contemplation: A Long, Loving Look at the Real,” in An Ignatian Spirituality Reader, ed. George W. Traub, S.J. (Loyola: 2008), 93 (originally published in Church in 1989).

Imagination plays an important role in Ignatian spirituality, especially in contemplative reading of Scripture. We are asked to place ourselves in whatever story we are reading – to imagine the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings we would experience as participants in the story. The goal of such reading is to make the story personal for us, so that we’re not just reading about Sarah, Moses, Elijah, Jesus, etc., but encountering them. This style of prayer can be adapted and expanded, inviting faculty, staff, and students to place ourselves in the “story” of the STM community:

It calls us to be fully present in class and at various events in the school.

It calls us to implicate ourselves in the theologies we teach and learn—to find where our beliefs and prayer life fit into those theologies and vice versa.

It calls us to be present to the lived realities of our peers and classmates—to strengthen community by seeking out and honoring the details of each other’s lives.

Union of Minds and Hearts

“As Ignatius came to know the love of God...he attracted companions who became his ‘friends in the Lord’ for the service of others. The strength of community working in service of the Kingdom is greater than that of any individual or group of individuals.”
—Society of Jesus, “The Characteristics of Jesuit Education, 1986,” in Ignatian Pedagogy: Classic and Contemporary Texts on Jesuit Education from St. Ignatius to Today (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2017), section 8, paragraph 116.

The STM is an international community where students—men and women, lay and ordained—come together for formation in the Ignatian tradition to serve as learned ministers, scholars, and leaders in the church. While appreciating the diverse backgrounds and unique gifts of each person, we strive to embody St. Paul’s vision of unity in diversity (Romans 12:5) in our shared mission to serve the people of God. As an alternative to the competition and rivalry which are so characteristic of many contemporary cultures, we are called to a spirit of collaboration, shared responsibility, and mutual support in all aspects of our common life - in the classroom, the liturgy, and social and pastoral activities.