Pre-Theology

Mundelein Seminary offers a two-year Pre-Theology program. It is designed for those college graduates who need to make the transition into seminary life and to acquire the necessary academic courses in philosophy and religious studies.

Students in the Pre-Theology program are full-time members of the Mundelein Seminary community. They pursue either a certificate or Masters of Arts degree to prepare them. Individual rooms provide space for study, reflection and prayer. Their group living provides the base for mutual support and interaction. Students participate in one of two mission trip options: an international Catholic Relief Services Global Fellows Trip or a mission trip within the United States. From the experiences shared with the poor and marginalized, the men will be called to live the love of Christ expressed in their prayer and theology.

THE PRE-THEOLOGY ACADEMIC PROGRAM

The study of Philosophy is important not only as a preparation for Theology but also as a needed element in the life of those who would accept leadership in the Church of the twenty-first century. Critical reflection helps focus the issues of a complex world and sharpen the wisdom of the preceding ages. An understanding of the culture and ideas of the world today strengthens the priest’s ability to preach the gospel and to clear the path for God’s invitation to faith. The Pre-Theology program provides thirty-three semester hours of philosophy: The History of Philosophy (Ancient, Medieval, Modern, Contemporary), as well as courses in Logic, Metaphysics, Epistemology, Anthropology, Philosophy of Nature, Natural Theology and Ethics. In addition there are nineteen semester hours in religious studies. The Pre-Theologians will study Latin, and Greek (optional two semesters) as well as an offering in the humanities. There will also be opportunities for the study of Spanish, both language and culture. A limited selection of electives, depending on the student’s interest and time, is available. They pursue either a certificate or Masters of Arts degree to prepare them for theology.

Course offerings

PH601 Anthropology

This course introduces the student to philosophy through an examination of questions about “human nature” and what it means to be “human.” Related issues are: knowledge, freedom, the individual person, death, purpose and meaning. Important writers in the history of Western thought are examined to see why they come to their conclusions and to see the consequences of their thought for personal and theological reflection. In the process, students discover the nature of philosophy and its methods.

PH602 Metaphysics

This course is an introduction to fundamental Thomistic metaphysics. Among the issues considered are the following: the question and grasp of Being; the language of metaphysics; the structure of finite being; the nature and role of causality; metaphysical consideration of God, evolution, good and evil; the Thomistic understanding of the whole. Certain contemporary perspectives on the question and meaning of Being are also considered.

PH603 Natural Theology

This is a course in the basic metaphysical questions concerning reality and the principles in terms of which reality can be coherently explained. It also considers the reality of God: his existence, nature, and relationship to the world; the question of evil, faith and reason. Students review both classical explanations and modern critiques. In the final analysis, Natural Theology establishes not much of the truth of God as the truth of man, of human reasons pondering the Numinous.

PH604 Ethics

This course examines the ethical theories of eight influential philosophers in the Western tradition: Aristotle, Epictetus, Aquinas, Hume, Kant, Mill, Sartre, and Camus. Students will read excerpts of primary sources, along with some secondary source material. By the end of the course, students will be able to summarize and critically engage the various schools of thought typified by each philosopher. Such knowledge will prove invaluable for the historical study of theology, which developed in part as a response to these philosophical currents. It will also shed light on the diversity of moral beliefs present in our contemporary milieu, equipping future priests with the requisite knowledge to become new evangelizers in a world desperately in search of meaning.

PH606 Modern Philosophy

The purpose of this course is to introduce the student interested in priesthood and/or evangelization to the world that has been shaped by modern thought. Rather than study individual philosophers, we focus on the problematic and process of modern and contemporary philosophy, and on distinctions essential to understand our status as human agents. To grasp clearly the transformations of modern philosophy, we contrast it with classical thinking. It is hoped that the student will appreciate better the challenges the modern world presents to the proclamation of the Gospel.

PH605 Contemporary Philosophy

An in-depth consideration of authors in contemporary philosophy and their impact on Christian thinking, with concentration on Heidegger, Marcel, Kierkegaard, as well as James, Peirce, Dewey and the Pragmatic Movement. Other issues include: the human person and his/her relationship to God, others, and the world.

PH607 Religion Seminar

The Seminar covers a variety of issues: Reading, methods of study, writing skills and research. A study of the nature of Religion and the relationship of Faith and Reason. A study of a variety of Christian and non-Christian religious traditions.

PH611 Research Seminar

Research and writing guidance for final paper for M.A. Degree

PH612 Medieval Philosophy

A course in the History of Medieval Philosophy. This course will concentrate on the life, works and foundational principles beginning with Boethius and ending with Ockham. A concentration on the philosophical thinking of St. Thomas Aquinas.

PH614 Ancient Philosophy

Covering the times from ca. 600 BC until 430 AD, the course is a survey of the Greek philosophical tradition form the Pre-Socratics to the rise of Christianity. The course will concentrate on both the history and readings/analysis of philosophical texts with the body-soul problematique as the unifying topic. Special attention will be given to Plato, Aristotle and Augustine.

PH616 Reading Group

In preparation of the comprehensive exams, students participate in a reading group directed by a faculty member. The course has the goal of insuring the orderly and timely study of philosophy reading list.

PH619 Logic

This course is an introduction to the nature and arts of language. We examine the parts of speech from a philosophical perspective, how grammar reveals reality, and how rhetoric points to an understanding of the whole. The principles and practice of Aristotelian formal logic are studied, and variations on this logic in modern and contemporary thought are also considered.

PH620 Philosophy and Nature

This course seeks to introduce students to the philosophy of nature broadly considered and will address the following questions: 1) what is nature made of? 2) what causes events in nature? 3) why are some items in nature inert and others alive? 4) how do scientific discoveries about nature change the philosophy of nature? 5) are some realities found in nature (for example, the soul) beyond the reach of the scientific method? The approach of this course will be roughly historical: starting with the pre-Socratics, it will then concentrate mostly on Aristotle’s philosophy of biology and then will examine the challenge to his views in the wake of evolutionary biology.

PH621 Humanities

The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to some of the best works in Christian (and primarily Catholic) writers of literature. The first part of this course will concentrate on drama, the second part on poetry, prose and fiction. Both parts seek to provide examples of what great style can achieve to defend and expound the faith in many different genres, from novels and plays to autobiography and poetry. The plays chosen for this course all deal in some way with the question of the afterlife and thus demonstrate how theological truths can be conveyed through works of literary art and not just in tracts and texts of theology proper. The poetry section will concentrate on the poetry of the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the novel assigned deals with a famous fictional conversion, the narrator of the novel Brideshead Revisited.

PH623 Epistemology

A study of the nature of knowledge. The various explanations of knowledge as presented throughout western thought. How we justify claims of truth. Various theories of truth. Skepticism, relativism. Faith and Knowledge.

RS601 Church and Religion

This is not a course in theology. It is an exercise in negative capability. We will prepare to read theology by trying to understand what the authors have written. We will take one doctrine and see how its understanding developed over time, and try to appreciate how the doctrines of the church are the work of theology.

RS602 Introduction to the Old Testament

This course will be an introduction to the contents of the Old Testament. The history of ancient Israel will be used as a way of understanding the content and the development of the biblical books. Methods of exegesis encouraged by official church teaching will be used and introduced.

RS604 Pastoral Practicum I

The PTI pastoral practicum offers those who are entering the Seminary for the first time and are looking ahead to training for ordination, an introduction to ministry, a continuing realistic look at the foundation of their expressed desire to move into priestly life, and a base upon which to make decisions prudently and intelligently. The field education assignment involved the seminarian in ministerial settings outside the Seminary under the mentoring of a site supervisor and the director of seminary field education.

RS605 Pastoral Practicum II

This PT I pastoral practicum offers an additional semester of pastoral practice with supervision at a designated field education site. Emphasis is placed on the emergence of an understanding of ministry and of the minister himself. Theological reflection on the pastoral experiences will be done within the context of formation sessions by the director of field education.

RS607 Introduction to the New Testament After some introductory classes on the origins of the New Testament, on methods of reading it, and of its roots in the Jewish Scriptures, the course will spend most of the semester on the Synoptic Gospels and Acts. Students will also do an assignment involving the study of the New Testament Epistle.

RS608 Introduction to Spiritual Life

A study of the many and varied elements that make up the spiritual life of a Christian. Prayer, devotion, scripture. The foundations for a life grounded in the Spirit.

RS609 Catechism of the Catholic Church A thorough review of the major sections of the Catholic Catechism. Discussions and presentations leading to a correct understanding of Catholic teaching and thought.

RS610 Pastoral Practicum IV

This practicum is a continuation of the assignment from the previous semester. Building upon the initial goals, the seminarians are asked to focus on developing or deepening pastoral skills and sensitivities. In addition, they are encouraged to focus on the service dimension of ministry and on themselves as ministers and servants. The seminarians are mentored by a site supervisor and the seminary director of field education.

RS611 Pastoral Practicum III

Pre-Theology II pastoral practicum is focused on service for and with those marginizaled because of poverty, illness, race and cultural structures. The assignment and weekly experiences challenge the men to seek an understanding of the social contexts and structures that limit people in their ability to live full, active, productive, and free lives and they help the seminarians to identify effective pastoral strategies for promoting social justice within the communities and for the individual members. The seminarians are mentored by a site supervisor and the seminary director of field education.

RS612 Mission Trip

The weekly field education experiences of the first semester and specially designed formation sessions on social justice prepare the seminarians for their two week mission trips that take place the final week of the semester break in January and the first week of classes in the spring semester. Seminarians will participate in either a US or foreign trip that involves prolonged and meaningful contact and ministry with the poor and marginalized. Emphasis is placed on coming to know the people and their culture as well as the structures and history that have contributed to the human needs and injustice. Solidarity with others is stressed during the mission trip experiences as they come to more fully understand the Church’s call to justice and their own responsibilities to others based on the dignity of the human person and role of servants to Christ and His Church. Following the mission trips, the men participate in presenting highlights of their mission experiences to the larger seminary community

RS617 Documents of Vatican II

The course will study the genesis of the 16 documents of the Council, paying special attention to their content as well as surveying some of the more important documents which followed upon the recommendations of the Council. Reference will be made as well to the theological clarifications made by His Holiness, the late John Paul II, concerning the authentic meaning of the Council.

LG501 Ecclesiastical Latin I

Basic grammar and vocabulary

LG502 Latin II

A continuation of the study of Latin grammar syntax and vocabulary began in Latin I. Emphasis will be on reading passages of theological Latin literature.

BH503 Greek I

This course consists of a careful study of the grammar and syntax of the Greek Language with emphasis on New Testament usage.

BH504 Greek II

Building on Greek I, this course moves towards readings and exegesis of selected passages