The Augustine Institute Graduate School has renamed its Master of Arts in Leadership for the New Evangelism to Master of Pastoral Theology, effective Fall 2022 term. This program will be available on campus and online for the first time. .
Founded in 2005, the Augustinian Institute exists to train Catholics for the New Evangelization, equipping “Catholics intellectually, spiritually and pastorally to renew the Church and transform the world for Christ.” Its pastoral theology program combines these goals with the goal of helping men and women currently working in ministry, according to Lucas Pollice, director of the pastoral theology program.
“The greatest strength of this program is its holistic training,” Pollice said. “We really prepare people for lay leadership in the Church because of the holistic and comprehensive training, not only in deep theology and spiritual formation, but in other skills that are essential.”
Pollice, who has over 25 years of ministry experience, said the four pillars of this program – theological training; spiritual formation; pastoral, evangelical and catechetical formation; and Human Education — set it apart from other programs.
Students in the program still participate in six of the core theology courses, such as “History of Salvation,” “Jesus in the Gospels,” “Mystagogy,” and “The Creed”; but these courses are then associated with the third and fourth pillars, equipping students with the practical skills needed for secular leadership, he said.
“We really need knowledgeable, sophisticated and articulate lay people these days as leaders of the Church. It’s not easy,” Pollice said.
The Leadership for the New Evangelization program began in 2014 as an on-campus only degree program, Pollice said. Today, the Pastoral Theology program has become both an on-campus and distance learning program.
“Although we have a fantastic program on campus here in Denver, there are already a lot of people in the Church and in full-time ministry, and we don’t want them to leave their full-time ministry and move. in Denver for two years,” Pollice said. “This degree program and the training we offer is really for people who are preparing for or who are already in full-time ministry.”
Reaching hearts and minds
The renaming of this program lends to the idea that lay people need both a rich theological and spiritual formation and the ability to apply it to ministry in a pastoral and catechetical way, Pollice said.
“Pastoral theology is about taking the richness and beauty of our faith and presenting it in a way that will reach the hearts and minds of modern men and women. We really want that to be at the heart of what we do in this degree program. »
Pollice said this work keeps him grounded in the realities of the Church and our culture.
“I don’t want to be a teacher in an ‘ivory tower,'” Pollice said. “It’s really exciting to prepare students to be leaders in the Church or to work with people in ministry.”
Pollice has seen students continue to work in a variety of roles in the Church, including as evangelism coordinators, directors of marriage and family life, and directors of faith formation at colleges. Now, with distance learning, Pollice is working with students who are actively involved in ministry.
The Augustine Institute Graduate School has even partnered with the Diocese of Colorado Springs, Colorado to form a remote cohort. This cohort, which already includes four deacons, will meet monthly via Zoom to share ministry experiences and learn from each other.
“These seminars are all aimed at helping to immediately integrate what they are learning in the classroom with what they are currently doing in their ministry,” Pollice said.
Student life and post-graduation work
Incoming student Gladys Oster visited the Augustine Institute in Michigan last summer during its “City of God” seminar, she said. At the time, she wasn’t planning on getting a master’s degree in theology, but after touring the campus, she felt right at home.
“I just couldn’t get the Augustine Institute out of my head,” Oster said. “The joy at the Augustine Institute is simply amazing.”
Oster said she was thrilled for the Augustine Institute community.
“Their commitment to the Catholic Church is very apparent, even in the way [the faculty] raise their family and then welcome students into their family,” Oster said.
Oster, who will be taking the pastoral theology program, said she was excited about the various internship opportunities in Denver’s surrounding apostulates, such as Christ in the City, Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women (Endow) and a Catholic counseling group.
“I kept thinking about the warmth and the kindness and the joy. I felt that as soon as I walked into the first building,” Oster said. “I just felt the holiness and the love of the people. Honestly, I’ve never experienced anything like this. It was just lovely.
After graduating from the Augustine Institute this year, Katie O’Neil accepted a position as a Content Marketing Specialist at Augustine.
“The first time I walked on campus, I thought, ‘This is the real deal,'” O’Neil said. “The prayer life, friendships and community here have been totally transformative.”
O’Neil said she was grateful to be able to continue her experience at the Augustine Institute now through her work. She highlighted the deeper freedom and healing she was brought into through her classes and spiritual direction and how she didn’t know how much God loved her until she came to the Augustinian Institute. .
“What we have received through training is not only for ourselves, but is also a gift for others,” O’Neil said. “The Augustinian Institute is so successful because it puts the sacraments first, and it puts prayer first.”
O’Neil said she’s been able to apply many lessons from the Augustine Institute directly in her life, whether it’s talking to strangers on airplanes who don’t know Jesus or neighbors back home. side who are curious about the Church.
After completing the pastoral theology program that year — known as Leadership for New Evangelism at the time — Emily Wilson accepted a position as director of religious education for a Denver parish.
“After my first class, I left thanking my teacher and saying, ‘This is what I expected,'” Wilson said. “I was waiting for someone to honor my intellect by giving me the meat and substance of faith so I could impart it to others.”
Wilson remembers Pollice telling his class that new evangelism is a home game, which changed his perspective on evangelism and mission.
“The Catholic Church desires to give life fully to every person,” Wilson said. “I love Pollice’s analogy that we have all the advantages on our side to cheer us on, and we have what every heart desires.”
Wilson said there was no place that formed her to love others, the Church and souls more than the Augustinian Institute. The pastoral theology program in particular taught Wilson techniques and strategies for communicating his experiences and knowledge of the faith.
“We don’t study theology [just] for ourselves,” Wilson said. “We study theology so that we can communicate God’s love and his loving invitation to all souls. This program trained me to be generous with my knowledge.