Enrollment in the Pre-Theology Program will give seminarians the background, vocabulary, basic critical thinking skills, spiritual and human formation, and basic integrative experiences necessary to successfully participate in SPSU’s theological formation program. (An important element of our Program is to give newcomers to formation a welcome and level of comfort with their new life here.)

Learning Outcomes

  1. The student will demonstrate an introductory knowledge of major themes of Western philosophical thought and their significance and value for the theological and life enterprise, while developing a proficiency in the use of philosophical and theological language and concepts. (PPF 152-157) (Intellectual Pillar)
  2. The student will exhibit the ability to analyze, synthesize, and contextualize, showing critical thinking and writing skills. (PPF, par. 162) (Intellectual Pillar)
  3. The student will engage with the Church’s intellectual tradition with respect to the relationship between faith and reason and work toward the integration of all pillars of priestly formation in a life of prayer, virtue, study, and service. (PPF 150, 153, 154, 157) (Human, Intellectual, Spiritual, Pastoral Pillars)
  4. The student will take first steps towards true professional competence at articulating faith statements in forms useful in parish life. (PPF 147, 155) (Pastoral, Intellectual Pillars)
  5. The student will be able to identify, analyze, and engage with philosophical themes in extra-philosophy liberal arts and in the contemporary cultural, social, political, and economic context. (PPF, par. 147-151, 155, 162) (Human, Intellectual, Spiritual, Pastoral Pillars)
Pre-Theology I
 PH-101/2: History of Philosophy I/II (6)  PH-103/4: History of Philosophy III/IV (6)
 TH-102: Catholic Doctrine I (3)  PH-108 Philosophical Anthropology (3)
 SS-107: Introduction to Sacred Scripture (3)  TH-103: Catholic Doctrine II (3)
 TH-101: Prayer in Christian Tradition (1)  TH-106: Introduction to World Religions (3)
 PH-103: Logic (3)  


Pre-Theology II
 PH-110: Metaphysics (3)  PH-106: Epistemology (3)
 PH-207 Philosophy of Nature (3)  PH-105: Ethics (3)
 PT-104: Catholic Doctrine III (3)  PH-107: Philosophy of God (3)
 PT-205: Humanities I (3)  PT-204: Catholic Fiction (3)
 PH-111: Selected Philosopher (3)  PH-111: Selected Philosopher (3)
 TH-101: Prayer in Christian Tradition (1)  

Course Descriptions (Undergraduate)

Pre-Theology Program

PT-104: Introduction to Spirituality
This semester experience will focus on developing the basic components of a priestly life and spirituality, such as apostolic service, prayer and an increased knowledge of the Catholic spiritual tradition

PH-101: History of Philosophy I/II
This six-unit course will trace the development of philosophy from the Classical era (Plato, Aristotle) to the end of the medieval period. Special attention will be given to the thought of St. Augustine and the perennial philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas.

PH-102: History of Philosophy III/IV
This six-unit course continues to study the development of philosophy from Descartes to the contemporary philosophies of the 21th century (e.g., Mostmodern Philosophy). Emphasis will be placed on classical modern philosophies and on the Church's relationship to the discipline of philosophy.

PH-103: Logic
Logic studies the rules of valid reasoning. In this course the student examines Aristotelian logic, which served as the foundation of medieval and Thomistic theology. The fallacies, the syllogism and the valid form of argumentation will be studied. Modern symbolic logic is compared to Aristotelian logic to show the student the development of logic in the modern era.

PH-110: Metaphysics
This class discusses the classical metaphysical questions surrounding being, ontology, and the ultimate nature of existence. Focus is placed on the metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas, its influence on Catholic dogma, and the challenges, which are raised by the Kantian critique.

PH-105: Ethics
This course examines the ethical teachings of various philosophers throughout history. Questions to be discussed include: What is good? What makes a good life? How does one make ethical judgments? Special attention is given to the role of the virtues in the philosophy of St. Thomas.

PH-106: Epistemology
This course reviews the key questions surrounding human knowing, such as, what is knowledge? How does knowledge arise, and what modes of knowledge are valid? It examines the various answers given in the history of philosophical thought.

PH-107: Philosophy of God
Natural theology determines what can be known of God and the world by the light of natural reason. This course asks such questions as: What can we know about God and the Spiritual by reason unaided by divine revelation? Questions to be asked are: What are the arguments for the existence of God? Can we be certain that spiritual agents, such as angels, exist? Does the human being have a soul? Did the world have a beginning in time? St. Thomas Aquinas's philosophy is studied closely in this course.

PH-108: Philosophical Anthropology
This course discusses various answers to the philosophical question, Who is the human person and what is his/her relationship to God? Emphasis will focus on the traditional Christian understanding of this question and the challenges raised by post-Enlightenment philosophy.

PH-110: Metaphysics
This class discusses the classical metphysical questions surrounding being, ontology, and the ultimate nature of existence. Focus is placed on the metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas, its influence on Catholic Dogma, and the challenges, which are raised by the Kantian critique.

PH- 111: Selected Philosopher
In this course an individual philosopher is studied in detail. Each year a particular philosopher will be chosen for his influence on Catholic thought, theology and life. Such thinkers as St. Augustine, William of Ockham, Immanuel Kant, William James, Jacques Maritan, Martin Heidegger, and Ãtienne Gilson will be studied.

PH-113: Philosophical Novel
In this course the student will read a select number of novels, which focus on philosophical or cultural issues such as human freedom, atheism, God, evil, crime and religion.

PT-204: Catholic Fiction
In this course several classic Catholic novels are read. The conversion, theology and spirituality of the authors are examined to help the students interpret the fictional texts. Such themes as the priesthood, spirituality, temptation, and the modern Church are covered. The students are encouraged to discover the implicit theology in the various Catholic novels studied.

PH-207: The Philosophy of Nature
The Philosophy of Nature follows metaphysics by asking, "What is the nature of natural phenomena and the creation?" This course examines the Aristotelian and Thomistic tradition on the notion of being and natural substance.

SS-107: Introduction to Sacred Scripture
This course is designed to give students the basic tools for understanding the study of Sacred Scripture. Topics to be covered include: the senses of scripture, the development of the canon, the historical critical method, magisterial teaching since Pope Leo XIII on the study of God's word, and the basic structure of the Old and the New Testaments.

TH-102: Catholic Doctrine I
This class is the first of a two-part course introducing students to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This class will cover Parts I, The Profession of Faith, and Part IILife in Christ, which familiarizes students with the basic principles of Catholic faith and morals.

TH-103: Catholic Doctrine II
This course covers Parts II, The Celebration of the Christian Mystery, and Part IV, Christian Prayer, of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This course will deal with the public and private expression of the Catholic faith in the sacraments and in the life of prayer. 

TH-106: Introduction to World Religions
This class is the part two of a two-part course introducing students to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This class covers Part III, "life in Christ," which familiarizes students with the basic principles of Catholic moral thought.