The College announces educational partnership with Diocese to assist parishioners statewide

Saint Joseph's College, through its Graduate & Professional Studies division, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland have entered into a partnership that will grant Diocesan parishioners a streamlined admissions process, application fee waiver, and tuition discounts for online theology degree programs. The Graduate & Professional Studies division, which offers varied degree programs for adult learners, earlier this year announced the launch of an online Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology and Bachelor of Arts in Theological Studies.

The degrees are focused on laypeople who serve, or are preparing to serve, in a wide spectrum of Catholic ministries. The courses provide the formal, accredited education needed as the Catholic Church consolidates parishes and calls for more trained lay members. According to Bishop Richard Malone of the Diocese of Portland, "Not only is there a significant need for these programs in Maine, but a growing market in New England and across the nation as ministerial needs and new lay leadership positions evolve in the Church."

The blend of required courses and electives are rooted in Roman Catholic theology and ministry and geared toward lay ministers, such as pastoral associate, faith formation director, parish Catechetical leader, parish administrator, chaplain, Chancery official, social services director, liturgical minister, youth minister, and director of religious education. The degree programs will serve those involved with parishes, diocesan agencies, hospitals, retreat/spiritual centers or social service agencies.

Daniel Sheridan, professor of theology at the Standish campus for traditional undergraduates, is also the newly appointed program director of theology programs for the Division of Graduate & Professional Studies. Dr. Sheridan holds a doctorate in Theology/History of Religions from Fordham University . According to Sheridan, "the online programs are based on the philosophy that effective ministry requires a solid theological foundation in Catholic doctrine with a deep spiritual and pastoral orientation."

August 31, 2007 Contact: Charmaine Daniels at (207) 893-7723 or e-mail cdaniels@sjcme.edu