Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Graduate Theology Programs

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"We urge that theological education and formation be extended to more lay persons.… The Church needs a well-educated, inquiring, and vocal laity if the new evangelization is to achieve its full potential."

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
"Called and Gifted for the Third Millennium"

What is Lay Ministry?
What is Lay Ecclesial Ministry?
Why Should I Study Theology?
Why Should I Study at Saint Meinrad?

What is lay ministry?

God calls all baptized Christians, whether lay or ordained, to cultivate holiness, live simply, serve others, and spread the Gospel. Since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, however, the public role of the laity in the Catholic Church has evolved remarkably. Lay women and men now proclaim Scripture, offer the Eucharist, catechize, minister to youth and adults, counsel and comfort the sick.

What is Lay Ecclesial Ministry?

Some Catholic laity have a special calling, authorized by their bishop and in collaboration with their priest or deacon, to provide particular ministry leadership as their paid professional career. These "Lay Ecclesial Ministers" pursue theological education and formation for these roles.

Your parish probably employs lay ecclesial ministers: the director of religious education, a pastoral associate, a director of worship and liturgy, and so forth. Lay hospital chaplains, Catholic school teachers, and diocesan personnel could also be considered as lay ecclesial ministers.

Why should I study theology?

If you are already a lay ecclesial minister, perhaps you need additional education to work more effectively or earn a higher salary. If you are contemplating a career in lay ecclesial ministry, a graduate theology degree is an essential qualification. 

You may know God is calling you to something more, but you don't yet know what that "something more" is. Many of our students pursue their degrees as a way of discerning God's call. Many others simply want to grow: in faith, in knowledge, in Christian maturity, and in their capacity to serve and minister, whether full-time or part-time, paid or volunteer.

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Why should I study at Saint Meinrad?

Founded and administered by monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, our school focuses on the Benedictine value of combining holiness and learning. In addition to the rigorous coursework of our academic degrees, you'll be encouraged to understand yourself better, to grow spiritually, and to serve others skillfully and effectively.

You also have a number of ways to complete your graduate theology degree. You may prefer to take regular weekday classes (full-time or part-time) alongside our seminarians preparing for priesthood.

If you live up to several hours away, you may decide to take our once-a-month, weekend-based courses or any of our online course formats. This will let you study part time, alongside your professional and personal commitments, and still finish a degree in just a few years.