The Master of Arts program in Pastoral Ministries at Santa Clara University prepares candidates for the permanent diaconate in the Roman Catholic church to accompany the community of believers in sacramental and healing encounters that seek to transform lives. The entire church is called by Christ to serve, and the deacon, in virtue of ordination and through various ministries, is to be a servant in a servant-Church. At Santa Clara University the deacon candidate learns and engages theology and ministry alongside other men and women who, through their baptism, are also called to be servants in a mission church.
The educational program is tailored to meet the needs of a particular diocese; however, the seven foundational courses are required by every student in the program apply here as well. There are four or five additonal courses that are required, depending on the diocese, which include such courses as Sacramental Theology, The Eucharist, Catholic Social Teaching, Spirituality and Ministry, Scriptures and Spirituality, and Preaching the Word. Our program enhances the gifts and skills that students bring to the table through academic, theological and spiritual education to focus their ministerial practices on engaging the faithful in the sacraments, spiritual practices, and accompaniment of those most in need. Some concrete disciplines where this work is being employed are education, detention ministry chaplaincy, hospital chaplaincy, parish work, and whatever the Bishop determines is the greatest need. The Covid-19 pandemic crisis has certainly highlighted the need for people with compassion, pastoral accompaniment and reflective listening skills to engage with those who are suffering on the front lines and while sheltering at home.
Students in this emphasis will:
- Develop pastoral skills, enhance ministerial praxis, and explore intercultural and interreligious dialogue for restorative ministries;
- Recover the incarnational roots of kinship to restore balance to the beloved community in diverse global settings;
- Identify a critically informed approach to faith that promotes social justice for the benefit of those most in need.
The Diaconate Ministry emphasis in the MA program in Pastoral Ministries is currently offered in two dioceses within California. Classes are delivered in the Diocese of Monterey and on campus in the Diocese of San José. The requirements for the diaconate program do not require the deacon candidate to complete the degree; however, the option is open to complete the three or four remaining electives to finish out the coursework. Application to the program is ongoing for start in Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer quarters.
Through the “blended learning” approach the classes are taught with both face-to-face and online collaborative methods. The classes are taught within a ten-week quarter; three of these face-to-face classes are held on Saturdays throughout the quarter from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with a lunch break. During the other seven weeks of the quarter the classes are taught online as a web conference where students and professor meet together for two hours on a designated weeknight.