The following is a summary of the data for Saint Vincent Seminary from the past seven years.
I: The Pre-Theology Non-Degree Program
There are two possible Pre-Theology programs a student may pursue at Saint Vincent Seminary – a Non-Degree Pre-Theology Program and a Master of Arts: (Catholic Philosophical Studies) degree program. Both are two-year formation programs which are designed to prepare candidates for entry into the Theological formation and degree programs. The goals of these Pre-Theology programs are measured by the formation faculty using direct and indirect measures of achievement in intellectual, spiritual, pastoral and human formation and, for those enrolled in the M.A. program, culminates in the awarding of an academic M.A. degree. As a demonstration of the effectiveness of the pre-theology formation program, the following data shows the matriculation and completion numbers from 2010 to 2017:
Between 2010 and 2017, 36 students matriculated into Pre-Theology Non-Degree program. Of these, 18 students (49.9%) withdrew for further discernment. 11 students (30.6%) have completed the program and successfully entered into the M.Div. program and 7 students (19.45%) have not yet completed their programs. 50.5% have either successfully completed or are in progress towards completion of this program.
II: Master of Arts (Catholic Philosophical Studies) (MACPS)
The two-year Master of Arts (Catholic Philosophical Studies) degree program was accredited in 2015. This academic degree, together with the formation program which the students also partake of, fulfils all the requirements of the Pre-Theology formation program required for entrance into the M.Div. program. This degree program has as its purpose to offer an opportunity for advanced graduate study of philosophy emphasizing both the historical and major topical areas of philosophical inquiry, with attention to how these inform and are informed by the Catholic intellectual tradition. The graduates will engage in a two-fold concluding exercise: the writing of an integrative paper which will qualify them to then take oral comprehensive exams, both of which will measure student achievement of the degree program outcomes. There has not yet been a graduating class of MACPS students. The following data represents matriculation information only. Students who might begin in this degree program and then subsequently decide to withdraw from the degree program may still be eligible to partake of the Pre-Theology Non-Degree program in the Seminary.
The Master of Arts (Catholic Philosophical Studies) Degree Goals are:
1) To obtain the intellectual formation necessary for further theological education;
2) To develop a sound philosophical foundation and a reflective awareness of the fundamental relationship between faith and reason (fides quaerens intellectum) in the Catholic tradition;
3) To develop good intellectual “habitus” (habits) as well as content—to learn the good habits of speculation and reflection and to apply them to revelation, life, and the human condition.
Matriculation and Completion Statistics:
Between 2016 and 2017, 5 students matriculated into the MACPS degree. Of these, 2 students (40%) withdrew from the program but remained in the Non-Degree Pre-Theology program. 3 students (60%) have not yet completed their program.
III: Master of Divinity (M.Div.)
The four-year Master of Divinity degree (M.Div.), a fully-accredited professional ministerial degree, is designed to be completed by seminarians while they are fulfilling the requirements of the ordination formation program. It is the primary degree in Seminary education in the U.S. Successful candidates complete the required coursework, achieving a minimum of a 2.5 GPA each semester. All graduates received a passing grade on the direct and indirect assessment tools designed to measure the achievement of the degree program outcomes in intellectual, spiritual, pastoral, and human formation and were recommended to their sponsoring dioceses for ordination. Strong M.Div. candidates may also apply for acceptance into a dual M.A. or S.T.B. degree program.
The Master of Divinity Degree Goals are:
1) Students will learn the doctrinal heritage of the Roman Catholic Church and acquire the capacity to communicate this heritage through academic courses in systematic theology, Sacred Scripture, Church history, pastoral and spiritual theology, and pastoral studies, as well as formation conferences and structured opportunities for faith sharing.
2) Students will develop pastoral and leadership skills required by the diverse contexts and cultural dimensions of Roman Catholic parish ministry, by acquiring the academic and professional competency needed to begin ecclesial ministry.
3) Students will develop a commitment to life-long learning, rooted in the Word of God and integrated with their spiritual lives.
4) Students will acquire the competency requisite for preaching that is biblically grounded, doctrinally sound, pastorally focused, and rhetorically effective.
Achievement of these goals is measured by means of the course examinations, a comprehensive formation evaluation process which evaluates growth in human, spiritual, pastoral and intellectual formation (the Profile process). Other assessment measures include the annual Comprehensive Timed Assessment, and artifacts collected throughout the student’s years of study which contribute to the Portfolio Process, and an annual meeting of the entire formation faculty (Rector’s Council) with each bishop (sponsor) and/or vocation director to review in depth each one of their students. These, and the assessment tools highlighted below, provide the seminary, the student, and their sponsors a comprehensive evaluation of the progress being made by each student.
Matriculation and Completion Statistics:
Between 2010 and 2017, 63 students matriculated into the M.Div. degree program. Of these, 14 students (22.23%) withdrew from the program. 25 students (39.7%) have completed the program and been ordained to priestly ministry in the Church. 24 students (38.09%) have not yet completed their program and formation. 77.79% of all students in this time period have successfully completed or are in-progress toward successful completion of this degree.
As a demonstration of the preparedness of our graduates to enter pastoral ministry, the graduating M.Div. students take the Readiness for Ministry Exam in their final semester. This tool measures the extent to which the students can recall what they have studied and learned in their courses in the Seminary and apply this knowledge to specific pastoral scenarios. The results of this measure are shared with both the student and their sponsors. The following chart shows the cumulative grades, by class and cumulatively, from the beginning of this process until now.
Another demonstration of the effectiveness of this degree program in preparing men for ordained pastoral ministry, the data below shows the totals for priestly ordinations, canonical departures from ordained ministry, and the retention rates in active priestly ministry after ordination (since 1989 and 2007). These retention rates in active priestly ministry speak very highly of the quality of the human, spiritual, pastoral and academic preparation that students receive at Saint Vincent Seminary.
As a final example of another element of our overall assessment plan each year we have a Portfolio Project in which artifacts are collected each year for the M.Div. students. Each summer a team of three or four faculty members serve on an evaluation committee to evaluate a random selection of five portfolios of members of the graduating class and to submit reports to the Coordinator of Assessment. The following is the conclusion of the 2017 Portfolio Review Report written by our Coordinator of Seminary Assessment.
Overall, the Seminary can be proud of its work with the graduates (M.Div.). The degree programs are effective and the portfolios serve as direct evidence that the Seminary has met its degree goals, respecting all the while that every one of the candidates has more to learn. I believe reviewers’ comments that follow speak for themselves as to the effectiveness of the Seminary’s programs vis-à-vis student achievement of degree goals. The reviewers believe the artifacts in the portfolios more or less evidence achievement of degree goals. As noted last year, “not only do we see this reflected in their comments, it is also evident in their ratings of the portfolio (using the objective scale of, ‘Yes, definitely,’ ‘Yes, for the most part,’ and ‘Yes and no,’) in responding to the question of the extent the portfolio evidenced achievement of a degree goal. In all cases, the three assessors rated every student a score between 1 and 2 in each of the degree goals. In other words, every assessor believes each student’s portfolio reflects “yes, definitely” and/or “yes, for the most part” for every degree goal. Thus, the Seminary’s program “pictures” well through the lens of this year’s students. Note, however, the percentages concerning Goal 3 (commitment to learning) and Goal 4 (development as a homilist); that is, to what extent the portfolios altogether evidence the achievement of each of the degree goals. The reviewers as a whole suggest that the Seminary might want to focus more on these two areas.
Goal 1: From the evidence in the portfolio, has the student developed a solid understanding of the doctrinal heritage of the Roman Catholic Church and has the capacity to effectively communicate that heritage in today’s cultural context with sound pastoral sensitivity, competency, and imagination?
Goal 2: From the evidence in the portfolio, has the student acquired the academic and professional knowledge and skills to begin ecclesial ministry and leadership in the diverse contexts and cultural dimensions of Roman Catholic parish ministry? Do you see any development in his formation relative to this second goal?
Goal 3: From the evidence in the portfolio, has the student shown a commitment to life-long learning, rooted in the Word of God and integrated with his spiritual life?
Goal 4: From the evidence in the portfolio, does the student show that he has developed as a homilist and can deliver well-structured and focused homilies that are biblically and/or liturgically grounded, rhetorically effective, understandable to the average person in the pew, and integrated well with the life experience of his listeners?
IV: Master of Arts (Systematic Theology, Sacred Scripture, or Monastic Studies)
The Master of Arts degree program goals include both the attainment of a general knowledge of Theology, as well as a focus for study and research writing in one of three areas of concentration: Systematic Theology, Sacred Scripture, or Monastic Studies. Successful candidates complete the required coursework, achieving a minimum of a 3.0 GPA each semester and a “B” in each course. This, together with the capstone summative comprehensive exam in three parts serve to indicate the degree to which the student has achieved the M.A. program goals. The three parts of the M.A. Comprehensive exam include: a written comprehensive exam, a 10,000-12,500 word directed thesis, and a “lectio coram” (public lecture) presented before a panel of professors who question and then evaluate the presentation.
The MA Degree Goals are:
1) Students will attain academic competency in theology with a concentration in Systematic Theology, Sacred Scripture, or Monastic Studies
2) Students will acquire knowledge of the Catholic theological tradition by engaging in graduate-level research, including at least one graduate research seminar and the completion of two 7500-word research papers.
3) Students will develop the skills needed for critical theological reflection through coursework and discussion of research topics.
4) Students will demonstrate theological integration through a comprehensive written examination, two directed research papers, and the presentation of a public lecture.
Achievement of these goals is measured by means of the Comprehensive exam process.
Matriculation and Completion Statistics:
Between 2010 and 2017, 11 students matriculated into the M.A. degree program. Of these, 1 student (9.09%) withdrew from the program. 6 students (54.5%) have completed the program. 4 students (36.36%) have not yet completed their program. 90.91% of all students in this time period have successfully completed or are in-progress toward completion of this degree.
V: Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.)
This degree is offered under an affiliation agreement (approved by the Vatican’s Congregatio de Institutione Catholica and in keeping with the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana), with the faculty of the International Benedictine University in Rome, Italy—the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo.
The educational effectiveness of the degree program is measured by the successful completion of the coursework with a 3.25 GPA each semester and cumulatively, as well as the two phase comprehensive examination. The comprehensive examination is comprise of a 45-minute oral examination by a panel of five ecclesiastical professors, and the successful production of a directed thesis of 10,000-12,500 words which is graded by the director and second reader. Their grades and a copy of their graded thesis are then sent to Sant’ Anselmo where a professor from that University also reads and grades the thesis. The final grade and honors are determined by the faculty of Sant’ Anselmo which then grants the diploma.
The S.T.B. Degree Goals are:
1) Students will acquire an organic exposition of the whole of Catholic doctrine, together with an introduction to theological scientific methodology (Sapientia Christiana, 72).
2) Students will obtain a solid, organic, and complete basic instruction in theology, which will enable them either to go on to the next cycle of higher studies or to exercise some office in the Church (Norms for the Application for the Implementation of Sapientia Christiana, # 52).
Achievement of these goals is measured by means of the Comprehensive Exam process.
Matriculation and Completion Statistics:
The S.T.B. is a four-year degree program. Between 2010 and 2017, 10 students (90.91%) successfully completed the S.T.B. degree program.1 student (9.09%) withdrew from the program but remained in the M.Div. degree program.
VI: Master of Arts in Ecclesial Ministry
The Master of Arts in Ecclesial Ministry degree program (MAEM) is a professional degree open to candidates for the permanent diaconate and lay students. This is a three-year program. The curriculum consists of three major areas: Systematic Theology, Sacred Scripture, and Pastoral Studies. “The primary purpose of degrees that the [ATS] Commission designates as M.A. in (area of specialized ministry) is to equip persons for competent leadership in some form of specialized ministry in congregations and other settings.”—The Association of Theological Schools Bulletin 47, Part 1, 2006, 200.
The MA EM Goals are:
1) To help students appropriate and communicate the heritage of the Roman Catholic Church through academic courses in Systematic Theology, Sacred Scripture, and Pastoral Studies.
2) To provide students, through our homiletics program and field education experiences, with the professional competency needed to begin ministry in the Roman Catholic Church.
3) To assist students in their understanding of the cultural and ecclesial context in which they will minister.
Evaluation of the effectiveness of this program is done by means of measuring the success of the students in their academic courses, the evaluation of student portfolios, and by their progress and completion of the formation program in their diocese.
Matriculation and Completion Statistics:
Between 2010 and 2017, 11 students matriculated into the MAEM degree program. Of these, 1 student (9.09%) withdrew from the program. 7 students (63.64%) have completed the program. 3 students (27.27%) have not yet completed their program and formation. 90.91% of all students in this time period have successfully completed or are in-progress toward completion of this degree.
Retention Rates for Post-Ordination Students (Priests) from 1989-2017 (27 years)
“You will know them by their fruits.” (Matt. 7, 16-20)
Saint Vincent Seminary is the fourth oldest Roman Catholic Seminary in the United States. It has its canonical foundation in the papal bull Inter ceteras (1855), issued by Pope Pius IX, but its actual origins go back to the vision of a single Benedictine monk from Bavaria, Boniface Wimmer (1809-1887) who founded Saint Vincent Archabbey, College, and Seminary in 1846. Since then nearly 3000 men have been ordained to the priesthood, and among our distinguished alumni are 30 bishops, archbishops, and cardinals.
Perhaps the most definitive sign of the success of a seminary program is the perseverance of its priest-graduates in their priestly ministries in the years after their ordinations. An analysis of the data on the graduates of Saint Vincent Seminary speaks volumes regarding the effectiveness of the formation and educational programs of our seminary. Saint Vincent Seminary is proud to show that since 1989, of those who completed their studies in the M.Div. or Ordination Non-Degree Programs and were ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church, 91.72% are still in active ministry, 97.25% of those ordained in the last ten years. This speaks very highly to the quality of both our Formation Program and our Educational Effectiveness.
Retention Rates for Ordination Students (Priests) from 1989-2017
Total Ordained to Priesthood 338
Total Who Departed Priesthood* 28
Retention Percentage since 1989 1989-2017 91.72%
Retention Percentage over last ten years 2007-2017 97.25%
*By departure is meant “Canonical Departure” from the priesthood.