Priest's degrees / titles

I was looking at the website of my archdiocese and it lists all the priests as well as the letters of their degrees after their name, for instance, M.Div. I looked up what many of the letters stand for, so that really isn't my question. But I am wondering why there is such a difference between priests and their degrees / titles? Like does it just depend on what seminary they go to? Do they choose to have certain degrees over other ones, or are they told to? Why do some seem to have so much more education than others?

For instance:

A priest of a parish near mine is: Dipl. Past., M. Past, S.T.L.
Another priest is: B.A., S.T.B., M.A.
Another is: B.A., B.Th.
And, my pastor is: B.A., M. Div., J.C.L., V.F.

Just like any other field of study, there are various degrees (master's, doctorate, etc.) in theology-related studies. A man can choose his course of study depending on what he wants to do with it (parish work, teaching, practicing canon law, etc.), how much he likes to go to school, what his superiors have in mind for him, etc.

Thanks that makes sense, but I guess what I'm wondering is, for instance, why do some have degrees in Theology and some in Divinity? Like what's the difference, or are those just different terms for the same thing?

I apologize if I sound dumb, I really know nothing about it, just learning. I tried googling the subject and didn't have a lot of luck. If someone knows of a website that would be good to read and would explain these different titles I'd be grateful.

Divinity degrees are the norm. Theology degrees typically indicate some extra coursework in an area of theology--a speciality or major, if you will.

Another factor is the priest's path to the priesthood--some go to college and get a bachelor and sometimes even a master's degree in a field, not always knowing that they will later attend seminary, so when they do, their prior degrees and preparation--especially if they have already studied philosophy and history--may result in a different seminary degree. Still others receive a seminary degree, then go on for higher studies, sometimes in Rome or elsewhere. And some go to college, possibly even a college seminary, knowing that they will go to a major seminary immediately afterward.

V.F. is not a degree; it stands for Vicar Forane and means that your pastor is currently a dean of the diocese. This means that he presides over other priests in the surrounding parishes when they periodically meet. It also means that while the pastor is dean, he is actually entitled to be called "The Very Rev. ____." This is usually a term for several years, after which the title moves to another priest.

Thanks for that information Chatter, that’s very helpful, the differences make a bit more sense to me now!

Ah OK thanks… so then V.G. and V.E. are similar titles within a diocese? I was able to figure out from wikipedia that V.G. is vicar general but I’m still trying to figure out V.E. Thanks though I appreciate it!

[quote="Susan_Calvin, post:5, topic:181516"]
Ah OK thanks... so then V.G. and V.E. are similar titles within a diocese? I was able to figure out from wikipedia that V.G. is vicar general but I'm still trying to figure out V.E. Thanks though I appreciate it!

[/quote]

No. The abbreviation "VG" is Vicar General. There is only one per diocese, and he need not be a bishop. The office of Vicar General has been around for ages, and essentially he's the "number 2 guy" in the diocese (auxiliary bishops notwithstanding).

I believe the initials "VE" in the Roman Rite stand for "Vicar Episcopal" which is a strictly post-conciliar term for auxiliary bishops who are given charge of a particular part of a diocese. He is a bishop but does not have the authority of the Ordinary, even in the area where he has charge. (Nor does he have the authority of the Vicar General.) He is normally the pastor of a particular parish, and in simple terms, he's more or less a "super pastor" for the area of his charge.

and some letters after thier name is the order they are with too.
like OSB is the Order Of St Benedict.
OSF is Order Of St Francis.
SGS is Servants Of The Good Shepherd.

also in some orders of nuns and monks you will see like,
nOSB or pOSF
meaning a novilate or a postulant and others I forget.

The M.Div or Master of Divinity is a professional diploma required for those studying for the priesthood in the United States. The STL (licentiate in sacred theology) and STD (doctorate in Sacred Theology) are Pontifical Diplomas similar to a Masters and Doctorate but in the area of theology. A priest may also have an academic MA or PhD in theology or another field. A priest can also go for a D.Min.(doctor of ministry) which is also a professional diploma. The difference between a professional diploma and an academic diploma involves the level of course work and the scope of the thesis or dissertation or project. The professional diplomas also usually do not involve knowledge of a foreign language. Pontifical diplomas are only rewarded by Pontifical universities or those schools permitted by the Vatican to offer those degrees.

[quote="malphono, post:6, topic:181516"]
No. The abbreviation "VG" is Vicar General. There is only one per diocese, and he need not be a bishop. The office of Vicar General has been around for ages, and essentially he's the "number 2 guy" in the diocese (auxiliary bishops notwithstanding).

I believe the initials "VE" in the Roman Rite stand for "Vicar Episcopal" which is a strictly post-conciliar term for auxiliary bishops who are given charge of a particular part of a diocese. He is a bishop but does not have the authority of the Ordinary, even in the area where he has charge. (Nor does he have the authority of the Vicar General.) He is normally the pastor of a particular parish, and in simple terms, he's more or less a "super pastor" for the area of his charge.

[/quote]

The man who has the title of Vicar Episcopal for our area is not a bishop, auxiliary or otherwise.

[quote="Susan_Calvin, post:1, topic:181516"]
I was looking at the website of my archdiocese and it lists all the priests as well as the letters of their degrees after their name, for instance, M.Div. I looked up what many of the letters stand for, so that really isn't my question. But I am wondering why there is such a difference between priests and their degrees / titles? Like does it just depend on what seminary they go to? Do they choose to have certain degrees over other ones, or are they told to? Why do some seem to have so much more education than others?

For instance:

A priest of a parish near mine is: Dipl. Past., M. Past, S.T.L.
Another priest is: B.A., S.T.B., M.A.
Another is: B.A., B.Th.
And, my pastor is: B.A., M. Div., J.C.L., V.F.

[/quote]

Because priests are not stupid. They are well-versed in theology and in pastoral ministry. Some even have degrees in special areas of science, chemistry, history, math, etc. Usually these priests are teachers at Catholic universities and colleges.

Dipl. Past. means Diploma in Pastoral Studies
M. Past. means Masters in Pastoral Studies
S.T.L. means Licentiate of Sacred Theology
B.A. means Bachelor of Arts Degree
S.T.B. means Bachelor of Sacred Theology
M.A. means Master of Arts Degree
B.Th. means Bachelor of Theology
M. Div. means Masters of Divinity
J.C.L. means Licentiate of Canon Law
V.F. means Postdoctoral Visiting Fellowship

kinda cool, eh? :cool:

[quote="Phemie, post:9, topic:181516"]
The man who has the title of Vicar Episcopal for our area is not a bishop, auxiliary or otherwise.

[/quote]

That is not uncommon. For example, in the Archdiocese of Detroit, there are 5 Regions. Each of those is normally assigned an Episcopal Vicar ( V.E.). But over the last few years, we have had 4 of our auxilliar bishops granted their own diocese. The most recent was +Flores being granted the See of Brownsville, TX.

That leaves us with one active auxilliary bishop. Cardinal Maida had assigned two Monsignors to act as V.E.'s until such time as Rome grants us new auxilliar bishops.

These priests are granted the authority to Confirm etc..

[quote="peary, post:10, topic:181516"]

V.F. means Postdoctoral Visiting Fellowship

[/quote]

I thought it stood for Vicar Forane, which means my pastor is a dean of the diocese?

kinda cool, eh? :cool:

Yes, it is cool. I'm interested in this sort of thing. :)

[quote="Susan_Calvin, post:12, topic:181516"]
I thought it stood for Vicar Forane, which means my pastor is a dean of the diocese?

Yes, it is cool. I'm interested in this sort of thing. :)

[/quote]

Could be. There are so many titles, it's mind-boggling! :eek:

Just because a priest, or anyone, has a degree it does not follow that he is not stupid. Many of the stupidest people I know have a degree in something and many very intelligent and well educated people do not have a degree in anything. Overall, just judging by their homilies and behavior in confession, I would have to say that priests are among the least intelligent and least educated people that I have ever met. I had nuns and lay teachers in grade school who I’m sure never went to any college (you didn’t have to back then) who knew far more and were far more articulate and intelligent in every way than the priests I’ve encountered in recent decades. All those letters mean nothing. It’s like the scarecrow getting a “degree” from the wizard. How many priests today can even say a mass in Latin? Very, very few.

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