Created by Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology, the Catholic Center for Family Spirituality is a direct response to the challenge of Pope John Paul II to create new institutes dedicated to theological and pastoral dimensions of family life. Through a generous grant from the William E. Simon Foundation, the center focuses on the spiritual foundations of family life. It also reflects on the family as the “Church in miniature,” and explores ways to meet the challenges and stresses influencing modern family life.
Experts in the field offer retreats, courses, lectures and book club meetings. Retreats address the overarching theme of Pope John Paul II's Letter to Families, Familiaris Consortio. The center's cornerstone activity is the William J. Toth Summer Institute for Family Spirituality, which offers graduate-level courses on family life topics. The institute is named in honor of Dr. William J. Toth, associate professor of Christian ethics, deacon and father of eight, who created the Center for Family Spirituality alongside Dr. Dianne M. Traflet, associate dean. Dr. Toth suffered a fatal heart attack as plans for the center were being finalized.
The center offers graduate-level courses on the family at four sites:
- The Seminary on Seton Hall's main South Orange campus;
- Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Jersey City;
- St. Henry's Parish, Bayonne; and
- Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Ridgewood
All courses may count toward a Certificate in Spirituality or a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry. The courses also may be applied to a degree in theology or pastoral ministry. Click here for class schedules and locations.
Spirituality grounds the center and ensures that its ethical and social work is rooted in and related to prayer, scripture and the sacramental life of the Church. According to Monsignor Robert F. Coleman, J.C.D., rector and dean of the Seminary, “We intend to promote spirituality of the family by studying its richest meaning, fostering its capabilities, identifying the obstacles to its development and creating prayerful environments in Seminary classrooms and parish halls where family spirituality can be studied and discussed in ways that will help the Catholic family thrive as the `vital cell of society'.”