What do they teach in the seminary?


recently I’ve become fairly more interested in renaissance education and the overall “renaissance man” image and I always felt it was because of the church that education became available to everyone (at least the rich).

But my question is what do they teach in the seminary apart from how to be a priest? Latin? Greek? Church history? Theology?

All that sounds pretty renaissance to me (which is good)


A few years of Philosophy, a few of Theology. Sacred Scripture is on the curriculum and some emphasize Greek and Latin. The Rubrics are taught in the later years. The curriculum is as many and varied as there are Dioceses and the Orders have their own priorities. All good and any man leaving early should not be ashamed of an education towards the “Renaissance” Man.
I, however, treat every priest with great respect, not for his learning alone, but his power of the sacraments and the mark indelible on his immortal soul.


Hmmm… where to begin? well for a start, there are four areas of formation - human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral (from JP II’s Pastores Dabo Vobis. Spiritual is pretty straight forward, pastoral is about hands on experience in practical settings such as schools, parishes, rest homes, disabilities centres, RCIA programs, hospitals, prisons, etc; human is about development of maturity and dealing with personal issues, and intellectual is the academic stuff. Each of the areas of formation are equal in terms of their importance and all four are interrelated in the sense that they don’t exist in isolation from each other. So things have moved one just a wee bit from the renaissance (when, incidentally, seminaries first came into being).

So under the heading of intellectual formation comes the following subject areas: philosophy, scripture, theology, canon law, church history, liturgy, and (some) languages.


The practical answer is to Google some seminary websites and look at their degree requirements and course offerings.

The more conversational answer is that it depends on the Seminary and the philosophy of the administration. In more liberal schools you will find more liberal classes (social justice, liberation theology, etc.), in more traditional schools I would think a greater emphasis on philosophy and liturgics.


depending on when you enter you will take these types of courses

Out of high school (or college without a degree)
General education (maths, sciences, history, literature, english)
Philosophy (Metaphysics, Philosophical anthropology, epistemology, etc.)
Introductory theology at minor seminary (scripture overview courses, courses on the catechism etc.)
Electives at your choosing. (depends on seminary)

out of college with a degree.
Pretty much all of the above except General education.

Once you graduate from minor seminary here are the courses you will take at the Major seminary.
Here is my schedule to the best of my knowledge and memory.

Semester 1
Scripture methods
Introduction to moral theology
Intro to dogmatic theology
Introduction to liturgical documents

Semester 2
Patriarchal Church History.
Introduction to Liturgical Theology.
Moral theology (I don’t remember the focus)
Teaching and preaching (first homiletics course)

Semester 3
Midevil Church history
Sexual theology of the states of life.
Sacraments of initiation
Canon Law 1 (everything but marriage)

Semester 4 (from here I’m guessing because I’m not here yet)
Ecclesiology and Ecumenism
Homiletics 1
Pastoral Counseling (this is actually one of the most important courses you will take, at-least in ministering to others)
Spirituality of ordained priesthood
Synoptic Gospels

Semester 5
Canon Law 2 (Marriage)
Man Grace and Salvation
Sacrament of Marriage
Homeletics 2
Pauline Corpus

Semester 6
Christology and Mariology
Modern Church History
Sacrament practicum (focused on ministries as a deacon)
Catholic Social teaching
Theology of Holy Orders
Johannine Literature

Semester 7 (shorted in my diocese because of Deaconate internship)
Church history in US
Church Administration
Sacraments of healing

Semester 8
2nd practicum (focused on ministries as priest)
Theology of lay ministry
Wisdom liturature and Psalms

Hope this helps out.

much of this stuff can be taken by lay faithful at some seminaries, in some of my classes I have lay students, including, parents, religious sisters, recent college grads etc.


To abstract it a bit:

Languages: Hebrew, Latin, Greek:coffeeread:

Philosophies of all kinds.:confused:

Theology: Dogmatic, Ethical, Systematic; all of varying degrees:rolleyes:

Biblical Studies, Canon Law, Church History (Local and Global), Pastoral Counseling, Homiletics, and (what we call) “Mass Class”.:cool:

Basically, anything you’d need to run a parish.:smiley:


Here’s a sample of a seminary schedule for Pre-Theology (Philosophy), and Theology. Keep in mind that this expects a B.A. in any subject already.


Semester 1
PH411 Intro to Philosophy (3)
PH204 Metaphysics (3)not offered 2014–2015 PH203 Logic (3)
SP101 Elementary Spanish I (3)
TH205 Catechism Part I & II (3)
TH207 History of Christian Spirituality (3)
Combined with Year Two for 2014–2015

Semester 2
PH101 Ancient Philosophy (4)
PH102 Faith and Reason (3)
PH408 Epistemology (3)
SP102 Elementary Spanish II (3)
TH206 Catechism Part III & IV (3)

Semester 3
TH207 History of Christian Spirituality (3)
PH306 Ethics (3)
PH302 Medieval Philosophy (4)
OT401 Intro to Old Testament (3)
SP201 Intermediate Spanish I (3)

Semester 4
PH305 Modern Philosophy (3)
PH407 Contemp. Philosophy (3)
PH409 Philosophical Anthropology (3)
NT401 Intro to New Testament (3)
SP202 Intermediate Spanish II (3)


Semester 1
OT501 Prophets, Psalms & Wisdom (3)
NT501 The Synoptic Gospels (3)
HT501 Patristics (3)
TH501 Fundamental Theology (3)

Semester 2
OT502 Narrative Books of the O.T. (3)
NT502 The Letters of Saint Paul (3)
TH505 God: One and Three (3
ST501 Intro to Sacred Liturgy (3)
PS504 Intro to Communication and Evangelization (2)

Semester 3
NT503 Gospel According to John (3)
TH502 Christology (3)
PT501 Pastoral Theology (3)
CH501 Medieval Church History (3)

Semester 4
CH502 Modern Church History (3)
MT501 Moral Theology (4)
TH503 Ecclesiology (3)

Semester 5
MM502 Survey of Canon Law (3)
PS502 Sources, Structure of Homily (3)
TH504 Theological Anthropology (3)

Semester 6
PT502 The Counseling Pastor (3)
ST502 Marriage and Family (3)
MT502 Catholic Social Doctrine (3)
TH506 Sacramental Theology (3)

Semester 7
MT503 Pastoral-Moral Issues I (3)
ST503 Practicum in Ars Celebrandi (3)
MM600 Temporal Goods of the Church (3)
ST507 Eucharist & Holy Orders (3)

Semester 8
MT505 Bioethics in the Catholic Tradition (3)
PS503 Homiletics II (3)
ST504 Sacraments of Healing (3)

(Electives not included)

The amount of Latin and Greek vary by the institution. Some seminaries offer them as electives, some require four years of each, some require two years of Greek and four years of Latin.


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