Saint Joseph's College offers online theology degree programs

Saint Joseph's College of Maine is now offering a Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology and a Bachelor of Arts in Theological Studies through online education. The new degrees are focused on people serving - or preparing to serve - in a wide spectrum of Catholic ministries.

The strong blend of required courses and electives, rooted in Roman Catholic theology and ministry, will serve those involved with parishes, diocesan agencies, hospitals, retreat/spiritual centers or social service agencies. The degree programs are oriented toward lay ministries 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.

To help Catholic parishes in an era of increasing lay participation, the graduate and undergraduate degrees provide the formal, accredited education needed as the Catholic Church addresses consolidation of churches and a continuing call for trained lay members. Bishops have recently issued guidelines on credentialing parishioners serving, or preparing to serve, in a lay ministry role.

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."

Both graduate and undergraduate degree programs are based on the belief that effective ministry requires a solid theological foundation with a strong spiritual and pastoral dimension. Students not only gain a stronger understanding of Catholic theology and tradition, but grow in their faith and deepen their spiritual life.

Through online education, students complete their degrees at home or work, allowing them to maintain family and professional commitments without travel and classroom time. Students can begin at any time of year, and each student enjoys top-rate faculty, up-to-date resources and the support of an academic advisor who understands their educational journey. Online courses with discussion boards for student and faculty interaction enhance the experience, and practical applications help to integrate concepts in a real-world pastoral setting.

Saint Joseph's College nurtures intellectual and spiritual growth in students of all ages and all faiths within a values-centered environment. The core values of the College, founded in 1912 by the Sisters of Mercy, are faith, excellence, integrity, community, respect, compassion and justice. Saint Joseph's offers online education programs for adult learners through its Graduate & Professional Studies division. For more information, visit www.sjcme.edu/theology or call 1-800-752-4723.

December 11, 2006 Contact: Charmaine Daniels at (207) 893-7723 or e-mail cdaniels@sjcme.edu