Institute for Pastoral Theology, the master's program in which I am currently enrolled, is accepting applicants for the fall semester. The nearest location and the one that I attend is in Janesville, WI, but there are other sites throughout the country. It is a three-year program designed for working adults who have either finished their bachelor's degree or have a total of 90 college credits. The master's degree earned is an MTS, master's in the theological studies.
Many people have asked me, "So what are you going to DO with this degree once you are finished?" That question always makes me chuckle because one of the foudational Thomistic principles that is introduced in the first semester is "operatio sequitur esse" (translation: "action follows upon being"). Action flows from being, and not the other way around. We don't act ourselves into being. This is a counter-cultural notion, and it is one of the primary themes our Holy Father Pope Benedict XI has been stressing. "Modern scientific thought has increasingly shut us up in the prison of positivism, thus condemning us to pragmatism," (Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today). In other words, "doing" is valued, while what should be the primary focus of cultivating "being" is ignored, or worse, condemned as laziness and impracticality.
So maybe I should say that I am not DOING anything with my degree. Rather, I am allowing God to chisel away at my being (in order to intensely purify my understanding of the faith) right now in preparation to participate in the "doing" of God through me. How God is going to call upon me to use this great gift of intense, reflective study has yet to be fully revealed, but then again, I am already participating in His mission in my vocation as a wife and mother. So even if my ultimate task in life turns out to simply pass on a more vibrant and accurate understanding and witness of faith to my children, this time and effort will have been more than worth it.
Finally, I wish to submit that this program is centered in Christ and completely faithful to His precious Church. It does not soft-pedal truth, nor does it float inaccessibly beyond comprehension in theological speculation. This formation is pastoral, meaning that it presents a theology in action, a theology that is no less than doctrinal, no less than deep and pentrating, and no less than eminently transforming.
Look into it. I promise it is three years that will awaken your faith, refresh your soul, and prepare you to witness to the light of Christ.
Also check out some local friends who have blogged about the program:
Badger Catholic: One way to get an authentic Catholic education in Wisconsin
Making Things Visible: Dr. Douglas Bushman - Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem