Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology
Seminary's Theological Education for Parish Services Program (STEPS) is a graduate level certificate program for adult Catholics who desire a deeper understanding of their faith. Offering classes at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Ridgewood, New Jersey, STEPS expands the opportunity for lay graduate education beyond the Seminary building to a local parish hall. STEPS offers an integrated program of theological coursework, praxis, and spiritual formation to ensure a more professional preparation of its students for Church ministry. Students leave our program with a new enthusiasm and understanding of their faith, ready to live it and share it in their homes, parishes, and work communities.

Why Not Take the Next STEP to Grow in Your Faith?
A common question we often get about the STEPS program is, "What kind of students take STEPS classes to study Theology?" The answer is - "All kinds!"  The diversity of our students adds an exciting element to the dynamics of the classroom experience. They range in age from their 30s to their 80s.  STEPS students include:

  • Stay-at-home parents
  • Financial executives
  • Lawyers
  • Parish staff members
  • Small business owners
  • Nurses
  • Retirees

However, the common thread is that all STEPS students are passionate about our faith and have a thirst to learn more. 
Hear what Richard Engel, one of our current STEPS students, has to say about his experience.

“I run a company with over 100 employees, I am married and I have two young kids, so free time is at a premium for me.  When I first enrolled in the STEPS program, I thought it would be a good intellectual challenge as well as a change of pace from my day-to-day activities. I initially thought it would be similar to a continuing-ed type of environment.

However,  I was pleasantly surprised with the breadth and depth of the academic program.  The professors from Seton Hall covered topics such as the Synoptic Gospels, Ecclesiology, the Sacraments of Initiation, the Documents of Vatican II, the writings of St. John and St. Paul, the Pentateuch and much more.  Between the fantastic teachers and the interesting subjects, the STEPS program has completely reawakened my Catholic faith and inspired me to seek a deeper understanding about our religion.  I know I am not alone in this sentiment because my STEPS classmates and I have formed our own small faith community over the last few years. My STEPS classmates are from all ages and walks of life, but we have come together and developed friendships and grown together on our spiritual journeys. 

Prior to STEPS, the last time I studied my faith was as a teenager preparing for Confirmation.  Today, the STEPS program has helped me to realize how much more there is to learn about our beautiful Roman Catholic religion.  I am thrilled to be a STEPS student, I always look forward to the next semester of classes and I am even considering going on for my Master’s degree in Theology.”

Application Deadlines

  • For enrollment in the Fall Semester, apply by August 15.
  • For enrollment in the Spring Semester, apply by December 15.

We accept applications on a rolling basis for admittance to our Summer programs.

Application Requirements
In addition to the general University requirements for admission to graduate studies, ICSST requires the following:

  • a baccalaureate degree, preferably in the humanities, from an accredited college or university;
  • official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work done to date. Student transcripts or photocopies are not acceptable;
  • two letters of reference attesting to the student's academic potential and personal qualifications to pursue advanced theological studies;
  • completed application forms with a $50 nonrefundable application fee; and results of the TOEFL Test (for students born or raised in non- English speaking countries).

STEPS Certificate Curriculum
Each semester, two 3 credit courses are offered at our off-campus location in such areas as Scripture, Systematic Theology, Christian Ethics and Church History:  

  1. The Old Testament
    BIBL 6529 Spirituality of the Old Testament
    The Old Testament insight into the progressive revelation of Divine Presence and Fidelity. A study of the creation stories; the Exodus event; the sagas; Divine forgiveness and faithfulness; the call to holiness, and its particular and universal aspects.
  2. Synoptic Gospels 
    BIBL 6501 Synoptic Gospels
    An historical and critical approach to the study of the gospels, its limits and benefits, and its acceptability to the Church. The `synoptic problem' and the consequences of its resolution for study of the Gospels. Diverse forms within the Gospels and the characteristics of each Gospel.
  3. Church History
    HSTD 6809 History of Christianity
    An overview of Christianity from its origins to the present: the evolution of Christianity from a movement within Judaism to a world religion. Issues such as Church-State relations, the Reformation and the influence of the Enlightenment on the Church are major themes.  
  4. Documents of Vatican II
    STHO 6246 Theology of Vatican II
    A study of the background against which Pope John XXIII called Vatican Council II, the Council's preparation and its deliberations, as well as some consideration of its implementation.  
  5. John and Paul
    BIBL 6505 Introduction to Pauline and Johannine Literature
    An introduction into the various historical, literary and theological aspects of the Fourth Gospel and of Paul's Letters, especially those to the Galatians and Romans.  
  6. Sacramental Theology
    STHO 6503 Sacraments of Initiation
    A Biblical, historical, theological and liturgical treatment of the sacraments of Christian initiation.  
  7. Systematic Theology
    STHO 6202 Revelation and Faith
    A historical and systematic examination of the Catholic understanding of God's Self-Communication and humanity's correlative response in faith.  
  8. Moral Theology
    CETH 6130 Major Themes in Christian Ethics
    A survey of Christian ethics including fundamental moral theology and Catholic teaching in sexual morality, health care and social justice.
Contact Us

Institute for Christian Spirituality
(973) 761-9575
Fax (973) 275-2561
Lewis Hall

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