Holy Trinity Institute for Theology and Ministry
The National Catholic Church of America

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Holy Trinity Institute for Theology and Ministry is a two year certificate program of academic study and formation for ministry designed to prepare seminarians and religious of The National Catholic Church of America (NCCA) for ordained ministry and religious community life. It also serves as a resource for the continuing education of clergy and religious of the Church.

Institute Goals:

+ To provide the student with a critical understanding of the classical disciplines of theological study and the independent Catholic tradition.
+ To develop the skills necessary and appropriate for pastoral ministry.
+ To develop an inclusive and unified approach to the study of theology and the practice of ministry.
+ To provide and encourage a holistic process of formation for ordained and lay ministry.

The Church, The Program and You

It is of utmost concern to the Church that each priest, deacon and religious have the requisite theological and pastoral background and the necessary skills to be effective ministers of the Gospel. To this end the Institute program utilizes a tutorial model of education combined with personal formation for ministry and the development of the student’s ecclesial identity. Working directly with various tutors, students will complete a curriculum covering a broad range of subjects which include required readings and reflection papers in order to complete the program.

How The Program Works

Over a period of two years, each student works directly with assigned tutors to read and reflect on required materials. Upon successful completion of the program the student is awarded a Certificate in Theology and Ministry (CTM) by the Institute’s Board of Governors. While successful completion of the program is normally required of all candidates for Holy Orders, those with prior seminary or religious studies backgrounds may receive advanced standing at the discretion of the Primate. Completion of the program is not a guarantee of ordination, for which the seminarian must be formally approved by the Primate. All candidates for Holy Orders will be required to pass a comprehensive examination before a recommendation can be made for ordination. The exam is ‘open book’ and is taken at home by the seminarian. The exam may be taken more than once.

The Role of The Tutor

The tutors will guide the student in covering the materials to be read and provide critical review of written papers, as well as assist the student in relating what is being studied to his or her own preparation for ministry. Tutors will be chosen for their background and the ability to provide meaningful advice and review regarding the progress of students. They may or may not be clergy of The National Catholic Church of America.

The Role of The Student

It will be the responsibility of those enrolled in the Institute's program to read all assigned works within the given time limits and to write an original reflection paper on each assigned work. The required length of the paper varies according to the length and scope of the particular book. It will also be the responsibility of each student to engage in dialogue with his/her tutor concerning the work they are reading to ensure a proper understanding of the material.

The papers you will be required to write will be of specified length, double-spaced. Only typewritten or computer-printed papers (in standard type sizes) will be accepted. Recognizing that students have work and family obligations, effort will be made to provide sufficient time to complete assignments. However, papers will be required of all students in order to earn the certificate.

Financial Obligation

There is no charge for participation in the Institute program. However, each student is responsible for the costs associated with his/her own participation in the institute program of studies, including the purchase of books and materials, telephone calls and e-mail to or from tutors, travel expenses, etc. Many of the books and materials required will be available in public or Catholic college libraries or through
Amazon.com , helping to keep this expense to a minimum.


The works chosen by the Institute for study will be selected for the background they can provide in sacred scripture, church history, the various branches of theology, spirituality, pastoral ministry, liturgy, homiletics and related humanities. The reading list will consist of required books, alternative works and suggested further reading. Some books will require papers and some will not. There will be a "core" segment of works to be read by all students. The reflection papers you will be asked to write will be an important tool, not only for learning, but also for gaining insight into the way your own spiritual growth is progressing.

It will be extremely important for you to combine this study with the other components of your formation program, such as regular attendance at Mass, daily prayer, journal writing and frequent conferences with your spiritual director as well as the Director of Vocations. All students are required to have a spiritual director. The choice of a spiritual director is left to each student, but the director must be a member of the clergy of the NCCA. (Exceptions to this rule may be made by the Primate if the student already has an established relationship with a spiritual director outside of the NCCA. However, this exception must be requested, not assumed.)

Sample Readings

The following are samples of books which are drawn from a developing master list of works which you may be required to read:

Catholicism, Richard P. McBrien
HarperCollins New York, NY, 1994

A Concise History of the Catholic Church, Thomas
Bokenkotter, Doubleday & Co., New York, NY, 1979.

On Being A Christian, Hans Kung,
Doubleday & Co., NY, 1976

The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787):
Their History and Theology, Michael Glazier, Inc., 1987

Doors to the Sacred: A Historical Introduction to
Sacraments in the Catholic Church, Joseph Martos,
Doubleday & Co., New York, NY, 1982.

The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross
Trans., Kavanaugh and Rodriguez
ICS Publications, Washington, DC., 1973

The Orthodox Church, Timothy Ware, Penguin Books,
New York, NY, 1993.

The Rule of St. Benedict in English, Timothy Fry,
ed., Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1982.

When Women Were Priests, Karen Jo Torjesen,
Harper Collins Publishing, San Francisco, CA, 1993.

The Church and the Homosexual, John McNeill,
4th ed., Beacon Press, Boston, MA, 1993.

From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist, Edward Foley,
Liturgy Training Publications, Chicago, IL, 1991.

Candidates for Holy Orders

For those who are candidates for Holy Orders, particular attention will be given during the later months to the areas of liturgy and homiletics. For those who aspire to the permanent diaconate, the pastoral and sacramental aspects of this role and its relationship to the presbyterate and episcopacy will be explored. For those seeking ordination to priesthood, time will be devoted to acquiring the deepest possible understanding of the sacraments and their meaning in the daily lives of Christians.

Once the institute program has been successfully completed, and the seminarian has passed the comprehensive examination, the Board of Governors of the institute will make a recommendation to the Primate concerning the student’s readiness and suitability for ordination to the diaconate. The diaconate year will be a time of “internship” or supervised ministry, during which the deacon will engage in various ministries suited to his or her talents and the needs of the Church. A similar recommendation process involving those overseeing the deacon’s ministry will be required for ordination to priesthood. The final decision to ordain always rests with the Primate. For religious order candidates, religious profession must precede ordination to priesthood. Each candidate for ordination is required to meet in person with the Primate, or his delegate, at least once, before any decision to ordain to diaconate is made. Many candidates will have to travel for this interview and will be expected to do so at their own expense.

Policy Statement

Holy Trinity Institute for Theology and Ministry has been established for the purpose of preparing seminarians and religious of The National Catholic Church of America for pastoral ministry and religious life and is chartered and licensed by the Primate of The National Catholic Church of America, who is assisted by the Institute's Board of Governors in developing its curriculum. The Institute does not have, or seek, any other license or recognition from any governmental body or accrediting agency. Candidates are admitted to the Institute without regard to gender, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or physical disability.

© Copyright 1994-2005  The Most Reverend Richard G. Roy, OSJD  All Rights Reserved.