Lay graduate programs

The Saint Paul Seminary’s lay graduate theological programs equip lay leaders to become more wholly configured to Christ in service of their local Church.

A Community of Formation

Our graduate degree programs provide opportunities for integrated formation that serve the whole person, including:

  • Days of Recollection
  • Community Meals
  • Prayer and Worship
  • Service Opportunities

Human Formation

Human formation is an active acknowledgment of the gift of our lives. Care for self must be established in order to serve others. A healthy person cares for his/her own physical, mental, emotional and psychological well-being. Through honest reflection and discipline, a well-informed student will find the balance of healthful exercise, eating and sleeping habits to balance fruitful study. Self-awareness and responsibility, in regard to emotional and psychological stability, may be achieved with the use of the many good resources available to students. Human formation is foundational for a life of service and leadership.

Intellectual Formation

Intellectual formation is at the core of our students' experience in that the pursuit of a graduate degree in theology is an academic exercise. While academic excellence is generally assessed by objective performance measures, it is our vision to promote a view of academic study which incorporates other virtues as well. Humility, patience, peace, docility, perseverance and charity are some of the qualities necessary for a life of theological study and consideration. Contemplation, prayer, attentiveness and regard for others are also essential for the development of a mind alive in Christ.

Spiritual Formation

Spiritual Formation is based on the one mission and the one call to holiness in which all members of the Church participate, though in different ways. An authentic spirituality is focused on the Kingdom of God, permeated by the liturgy and the sacraments, enriched by the total experience of the Catholic tradition, informed theologically, expressed in service, and respectful of the dynamics of human growth. Lay ministers and theologians discern the will of God in their lives and in the work to which they are dedicated. Knowledge of personal gifts, practice of spiritual growth, and attentiveness to the events and phenomena of the world lead individuals to more freely and confidently respond to the activity of the Holy Spirit. Self-reflection and a willingness to be touched by struggles and joys of others draw us to compassionate response in the light of Christian faith. Community in worship unites us in our common mission to serve God and to support and affirm one another. Spiritual formation provides direction, motivation, and sustenance for pursuing the call to leadership and study.

Pastoral Formation

Pastoral formation is an important aspect of the application of study for both lay ministers and theologians. A pastoral sense is necessary to convey the teaching of the Church, to do ministry among the poor and to lead the parish community effectively. Pastoral formation has direct implications for the students in the Master of Art in Pastoral Ministry and Master of Art in Religious Education where students endeavor to serve the Church in a specific way.

For several decades and in growing numbers, lay men and women have been undertaking a wide variety of roles in Church ministries. Many of these roles presume a significant degree of preparation, formation and professional competence. The laity have been entrusted with responsibilities for leadership in particular areas of ministry, thereby being drawn into a close, mutual collaboration with the pastoral ministry of bishops, priests and deacons. A collaboration intended to be fruitful, as ordained and lay ministers, in distinct and complementary ways, deliver the Church’s saving message of Christ to the world.

Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord is a resource for diocesan bishops and for all who are responsible for guiding the development of lay ecclesial ministry in the United States.

claire saint paul seminary school of divinity student 200x200

Claire Brostrom


“I can't take notes fast enough in all of my courses. … I feel like everyone should learn this. I ask myself a lot, ‘How can I be Catholic and not have known this?’ I didn't know the Church had so many answers to so many specific things.”

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Will Eagan

Student, Catholic school teacher

"Studying here has helped me really develop a deeper love for our faith, a deeper love for the liturgy, for the saints, for the history of the Church. This has helped me immensely in my own personal spiritual life ... but also as a teacher. It's helped me better pass on what I love to my students and better share the truth about our faith with them."

jill bueno saint paul seminary lay student

Jill Bueno


I am truly grateful to each of [my professors] for edifying my intellect, nurturing my spiritual growth, encouraging habits which better order life to God, and forming me into a disciple better equipped for pastoral leadership. The difference each of [them has] made in my life and by extension to the quality of my ministry is beyond measure.

lori hannasch saint paul seminary lay student

Lori Hannasch


Our time in the pastoral leadership program has left me with an insatiable desire to want to learn even more. All the courses were so valuable for not only my professional work in the Church but also for my own personal faith journey. This program took my relationship with God to a much deeper level, and it is a beautiful place to be. I leave the program with mixed emotions -- sad to see our time together as a cohort end, as new friendships have blossomed and grown, but excited to see all the places that God's light will shine through that much brighter.

joe mortl saint paul seminary lay student

Joe Mortl


The MAPL program has reconnected me to the Catholic faith by assisting in my formation: intellectual, spiritual, human, and pastoral. I have become more informed in all realms of theology. The [Saint Paul Seminary] has recognized the importance of each individual's spiritual formation. My love for God has only been strengthened by being in the program. Finally, it has guided me to become a more well-rounded theology teacher. I feel more confident in the material I am teaching to my students.

Take the next step as a joyful, Catholic leader

Experience the joy. Know and share the truth.

saint paul seminary school of divinity lay student

The journey

  1. Discern
  2. Choose your program
  3. Join the community
  4. Bring your faith home and into the world

Financing your degree

Cost doesn't need to be a barrier.

saint paul seminary school of divinity women students

Want to dive deeper? View the seminary's complete graduate catalog.

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