Adult Catechesis graduate programs, or what is Pastoral Theology vs. Theology?


#1

I graduated from a secular university in December and now I’m looking into a variety of graduate programs at Cardinal Newman Society-listed universities only. I’m having trouble navigating the choppy sea of different programs and could use help!

I’m interested in adult catechesis. I know it’s an important missionary field, it’s in our own backyard, and it’s probably a growth “industry”, so to speak. A campus minister friend of mine suggested the “Institute of Pastoral Theology” at Ave Maria.

In my search I’m seeing MA degrees in Theology, Pastoral Theology, and more. For starters, what is the difference between Theology and Pastoral Theology degrees? Is there such a thing as a program that’s more directly related to adult catechesis? Google wasn’t my friend with these questions.

I noticed, for instance, that Pastoral theology seems to have lower GPA requirements in many cases (which is more commensurate with my GPA, incidentally). Many programs have no GPA requirement, though.

Financial aid is going to be a dire need, as if this wasn’t a complex question already. So if you know anything about this, in relation to CNS-list grad theology programs, please chime in!


#2

Pastoral Theology is a Certificate received when a person satisfactorily completes all the required courses which are specifically centered on the care of the person with reference to Jesus, religious beliefs, faith, etc. It qualifies the certificate holder to provide counselling for grieving, caregiving in terminal illness situations, etc.

Theology is an undergraduate and graduate major.


#3

I have a master’s degree in pastoral theology. There are at least a couple of differences between my degree and a degree in theology.

First, pastoral theology is a terminal degree. The master’s is the highest degree awarded, unlike pure theology where one could also obtain a doctorate.

Second, pastoral theology – at least in my program – didn’t require a strong background in philosophy. I think that is required for theology.

A degree in pastoral theology prepares a person to work in a church-related setting. However, be aware that “work” may mean volunteer work or low-paid professional work. You’re not going to get rich working for the church.

You mention adult catechesis as the area you’re interested in. Do you feel confident that there will be a job available for you in the future? At the very least become familiar with RCIA since most adult-formation related jobs include directing the RCIA process in the parish.

I worked on my master’s degree part time. Since the classes were spread over a longer period I was able to keep up with the tuition without going into massive debt. Again, recognizing that jobs may be scarce and/or low paying, I think there’s an advantage to finishing without owing a great deal of money.


#4

I think you’re confusing pastoral theology with clinical pastoral education. CPE (see, for example, here) is used in health care settings to provide spiritual care for patients and their families.

Pastoral theology is an academic program that results in a graduate degree.

To the OP:

I have a master’s degree in pastoral theology. There are at least a couple of differences between my degree and a degree in theology.

First, pastoral theology is a terminal degree. The master’s is the highest degree awarded, unlike pure theology where one could also obtain a doctorate.

Second, pastoral theology – at least in my program – didn’t require a strong background in philosophy. I think that is required for theology.

A degree in pastoral theology prepares a person to work in a church-related setting. However, be aware that “work” may mean volunteer work or low-paid professional work. You’re not going to get rich working for the church.

You mention adult catechesis as the area you’re interested in. Do you feel confident that there will be a job available for you in the future? At the very least become familiar with RCIA since most adult-formation related jobs include directing the RCIA process in the parish.

I worked on my master’s degree part time. Since the classes were spread over a longer period I was able to keep up with the tuition without going into massive debt. Again, recognizing that jobs may be scarce and/or low paying, I think there’s an advantage to finishing without owing a great deal of money.


#5

The Church absolutely must work on educating the adults that it failed to catechize in the past two or more generations. In America, even immigration isn't creating a strong enough influx of people into the Church to grant it staying power; second or third generation immigrants become as secular as the rest of the population.

I heard that the Diocese of Phoenix has begun to work on adult faith formation and I'm interested in graduate programs that might prepare one to work in this emerging field. There -IS- a risk to pursuing a career in a field that might not emerge on "my" timeline, I know that.

To carry out adult faith formation, some have suggested requiring parents to go through classes for baptism preparation for their children, or even to take faith formation classes concurrently with their children but in a different classroom. There are a number of challenges to all of these ideas. How do you get people to actually attend? Where do you find the staff to teach them? What if people leave the Church as a result of having more expectations placed on them?

Gee, maybe finding a topic for my thesis won't be as hard as I was thinking this morning...


#6

[quote="stceolfrithtx, post:5, topic:274446"]
The Church absolutely must work on educating the adults...

[/quote]

I absolutely agree with you. For the most part we put our effort into educating children. However, if we put our effort into educating adults, they could do a better job of educating their children.

All too often education stops when someone is high school age. And then we wonder why young adults so often leave the Church. The answers that were relevant at 16 are less relevant at 26 or 36 or 46. People don't have the foundation to lead them into their adult years.

To carry out adult faith formation, some have suggested requiring parents to go through classes for baptism preparation for their children, or even to take faith formation classes concurrently with their children but in a different classroom.

I think many parishes require parents and godparents to take classes to prepare for baptism. I don't know how common it is, but my parish requires parents of children preparing for First Communion to come to several classes as well. But that's a small number.


#7

While it is imperitative that we increase our formation for adults, the truth is that most parishes can't afford a staff person devoted to adults, so it's either the DRE or Pastoral Associate who does it. I am the Pastoral Associate in our parish and I am Adult Faith Formation coordinator as well as Liturgy coordinator. My two MA degrees are in Theology (the second a full concentration in Liturgical studies). I also have a D. Min. I also happen to work for a parish that can afford someone to do adult faith formation on a basically full time basis since even what I do with regard to liturgy overlaps a lot with adult formation.

I agree with the other poster who said an expertise in RCIA is a must, as is adult learning techniques. The big problem today with adult faith formation is getting people to attend. It seems each year we get less and less who have the time to come to things. We are showing the Catholicism series for Lent and have done a lot of publicity and are showing it on a big screen in our HS auditorium so we hope we get a good showing.

Getting the parents of CCD kids to come to anything is like a losing battle sometimes. We offered sessions duing the kids class time and only 6 or so parents would come, but there were so many more sitting in their cars texting or talking on the phone. They would rather sit in a car in the cold than come down to a warm room with a hot cup of coffee and take 40 minutes to explore their faith.

I find my most rewarding work is done with adults in our diocesan pastoral formation program. At least those people want to be there.

I might sound negative, but I do love what I do and I do think it is important. As far as schools, I went to our diocesan seminary and to the University of Notre Dame for my degrees. In fact ND has a summer MA program that is very reasonably priced and the theology department is not full of liberal professors as people make it out to be.


#8

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