The Pastoral School of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia provides a sixty (60) credit program of study leading to a Diploma in Pastoral Theology (PTh.D), a forty-two (42) credit program leading to a diploma in Orthodox Studies (OS.D), and a one-year eighteen (18) credit Catechist Certificate. Those who successfully complete the one-year catechist program may pursue a second year of study which culminates in the forty-two (42) total credit program (18 credit from the Catechist one-year program plus 24 credits from the second year program) leading to a diploma in Orthodox Studies (OS.D).
The program in Pastoral Theology is required of candidates for ordination in
the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America who have not graduated from an Orthodox
theological seminary. The programs is open to:
- Any Orthodox Christian interested in studying
Orthodox theology, but unable to attend an Orthodox seminary.
- Orthodox clergy or laypeople interested in
increasing their knowledge of the Faith.
- To provide students with an academically sound Orthodox theological education through the media of online distance education.
- To prepare clergy for service to the Church through emphasis on practical application of knowledge to ministry, and to contemporary problems and issues facing the Church.
- To prepare knowledgeable pastors to serve local parishes and missions of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
- To accept students from all Dioceses of ROCOR as well as all canonical Orthodox jurisdictions who subscribe to the goals of the School.
- To train and certify catechists to prepare catechuments and sponsors for baptism, as well as those who wish to be wed in the Church in accordance with the decision of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church held in Moscow in February 2013.
The program does not seek to replace studies at a regular theological school, but rather to prepare those who cannot attend such schools, but who are none-the-less called to serve the local Church. Such individuals will partially make up for their lack of seminary on-campus experience by active participation in the liturgical life of their parish, attendance at a summer residence program, and through participation in virtual campus activities, as well as inter-seminary student conferences and activities.
Structure & Process
The program is a distance education based diploma program. Courses are provided through web-based classrooms and students are directed by qualified faculty and mentored by their local clergy who provide support, guidance, and direction for the student.
Completion of written examinations, assigned papers, e-classroom attendance and participation are required for each course. A senior thesis as well as a practicum are required during the last year of study on a topic/project chosen in consultation with the student's mentor, and approved by the Dean.
All Pastoral Theology candidates, unless a specific waiver is obtained from the Dean of the School, must attend a summer residence program offered by the Liturgical Music Program at Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, New York. Students must successfully complete the courses in Church Slavonic and in Liturgics offered through that Program.
In addition, candidates in Pastoral Theology must demonstrate proficiency in Russian or another language appropriate to their jurisdictional tradition. In lieu of demonstrated proficiency, students must successfully complete two (2) semesters at any accredited college or university, junior/community college or may use the services of a independent instructor, or tutorial program who will certify the students competency.
At the completion of the program candidates for graduation must pass an oral examination administered by a panel consisting of the Pastoral School's President, Vice-President, Dean, and at least one additional member appointed by the President.
Graduates will receive the Diploma or Catechist Certificate offered by the Pastoral School of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America and registered with the State of Illinois Department of Education.
Duration & Schedule
The program duration is two years and consists of four (4) semesters of study and a Summer Residence experience for Pastoral Theology majors. The Summer Residency Program must be completed in the summer before the student expects to graduate. The Catechist program is completed in one academic year, i.e., two (2) semesters of study for the one-year certificate (this program cannot be spread over multiple academic years, as the program is structured to be completed with one cadre of students and mentors in one academic year), with an additional two (2) semesters of study for those who complete the first year successfully and choose to matriculate into the second year program.
Applications should be submitted by September 1st of the year that the student intends to begin studies. The fall semesters begins on the third Monday of September and is completed in January. The spring semester begins in February with final examinations in early June.
Students must begin the School in the fall semester; no new applicants are accepted for the spring semester. Normally the Program is completed in two (2) years of four consecutive semesters. Students may enroll in the program on a part time basis; however the Diploma must be completed within seven (7) academic years.
Board of Trustees: & Administrative Officers
The Right Rev. Bishop Peter, President
The Very Rev. Father André Papkov, Vice-President
The Very Rev. Father Gregory
The Very Rev. Father Martin Swanson, Dean Emeritus