‘Intellectual formation ... is a fundamental demand of man's intelligence, by which he “participates in the light of God's mind” and seeks to acquire a wisdom which in turn opens to and is directed towards knowing and adhering to God ... If we expect every Christian ... to be prepared to make a defence of the faith and to account for the hope that is in us, then all the more should candidates for the priesthood and priests have diligent care of the quality of their intellectual formation in their education and pastoral activity' ( Pastores Dabo Vobis , §51).
The purpose of studies is to prepare competent preachers and teachers of the Gospel, who will be thoughtful, understanding and committed pastors in the Church. The Seminary provides a six year course of studies in which the whole range of philosophical, theological and other disciplines is covered. Since 1998 St John's Seminary has been an Associated Institution of the University of Surrey.
During the first year of study, students complete studies, which can count towards the Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies, awarded by the Board of Religious Studies of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales . In their second, third and fourth years, students work towards the Bachelor of Theology Degree, validated by the University of Surrey. In the fifth and sixth year of academic study students follow courses in preparation for ministry and higher level courses in sacred sciences.
There are also aspects of the work of a priest, and particular issues of which future priests need to be aware, which are best covered in separate training days — often under the direction of specially invited experts in the given field. Recent training days have dealt with topics such as Race Awareness, Disability, Sexuality and Celibacy, Alcoholism and Addictive Behaviours, Christian Art from the Early Church to the Seventeenth Century, Interfaith issues.
The majority of students are able to study for University awards. Others, for a variety of reasons, follow an internal course of studies. Courses may be adapted for students with particular requirements. Whatever the case, the priority is always to give each student a thorough preparation for priestly ministry.
Year 1. Introduction to Theology. Introduction to Philosophy & Epistemology. Introduction to Scripture. Introduction to Liturgy. Catechetics.
Year 2. Doctrine 1. Doctrine 2. Metaphysics. Old Testament. New Testament. Pastoral Theology. Early Church History.
Year 3. Doctrine 3. Philosophy of Religion. Christian Ethics. Christian Worship. Pauline Studies. Church History (Reformation).
Year 4. Doctrine 4. Doctrine 5. Johannine Studies. Church History (Modern). Ethics (Marriage & Sexuality, Social Ethics, Healthcare Ethics). Dissertation. Canon Law 1.