Institution / Pontifical University St Patricks College Maynooth
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Pastoral Theology

Through participation, reflection and practical experience, these programmes aim to prepare students for the various aspects of pastoral ministry. Both diplomas follow the same academic and placement programmes, and are awarded on the successful completion of one year’s full-time engagement.

Programme of Placement
Students will undertake a component of Clinical and Pastoral Education (CPE) or its equivalent, which will last for one semester. There will also be a four week block placement in a parish and school context or similar.

Entry requirements

Higher Diploma in Pastoral Theology:
Candidates are required to have one of the following:

- A degree in Theology
- A primary degree with a major Theology component
- An equivalent qualification with experience in pastoral ministry

Students who do not hold a degree with a theological component are required to take extra courses, and pass an oral examination in Theology.


1 year full-time

Further enquiries

The Admissions Office
Pontifical University
Saint Patrick’s College
County Kildare, Ireland
Ireland: (01) 708 4772 / 3600 / 3892
International: +353-1-708-4772 / 708-3600 / 708-3892
Fax Ireland: (01) 7083441
Fax International: +353-1-708 3441

Subjects taught

The course places a strong emphasis on participative learning. At a personal level the course focuses on growth in self-understanding, personal, relational and spiritual development. The programme includes:

Systematic Theology
•The Sacraments

Moral Theology
•Questions on Fundamental Moral Theology
•Sexuality, Marriage, Family
•Virtue of Religion, Medical Ethics
•Justice Issues
•Professional Ethics and the Priest
•Ministry as a Vocation and a Profession
•The Responsible use of Power in a Pastoral Relationship
•Violations of Professional Boundaries

Canon Law of Marriage
•Canonical Doctrine on Marriage
•Marriage Impediments
•Matrimonial Consent and Grounds of Nullity
•Pre-nuptial Enquiry
•Canonical Form and Registration of Marriage
•Mixed Marriage
•Validation of Marriage
•Nullity Procedures and Structures
•Other Marriage Procedures
•Pastoral Care of those in Irregular Unions

Counselling: A Pastoral Approach
•Bereavement, loss and grief in all contexts
•Pastoral crisis – loneliness, depression and anxiety
•Marital difficulties, especially communication
•Value systems and sexuality
•Questions of Faith – inability to pray, difficulty with sacraments
•Students’ own pastoral experience
•Personal difficulties

•Preaching on liturgical and sacramental occasions
•Celebrating Mass and the Sacraments

The Tasks of Ministry
•Ministry of the Sacraments
Theology, practical liturgy, ritual music, pastoral preparation and follow-up should be combined for four groupings.
•Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist
•Reconciliation, Confessional practice, Rites for the Sick
•Marriage, including Canon Law, Marriage Preparation,
Marriage Counselling, The Work of ACCORD and other organisations.
•Orders, Blessings, Public Prayer, Devotions, Funeral Liturgy.

•Ministry of the Word
Preaching, Catechetics, Adult Education, Parents Groups, Special Religious Education, Radio, T.V. and Journalism.
•Pastoral Care and Community Development
Visitation, Prayer and Spiritual Direction.
Care for the Poor and disadvantaged. Ministry to the deprived and marginal, the Sick, the Dying, the Elderly, the Mentally and Physically Handicapped, Prisoners, Emigrants, Substance Abusers. Initiatives and support in community development and social analysis. Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Ecumenism, Community Relations, Education for Mutual Understanding. Bereavement Counselling.
•Parish Organisation and Pastoral Strategy

Development of Ministers
•Personal development and self-understanding; Myers-Briggs,
•Social development in term-work; leadership skills, organisational
skills, chairing meetings.
•Prayer and Spiritual Development; Lectio Divina and practical
application of scripture.
•Physical Health, Recreation, Life-Style.


Director: Rev Martin McAlinden
Associate Director: Dr Bríd Liston fcj, MDiv (Chicago) MTh

Assessment method

Students will be assessed on both the placement and academic components of the programme. In addition, they will be required to take a general oral examination.

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