Let me introduce you to the Catholic Institute of Sydney (CIS). I hope that in getting to know us a little better you will get information to assist you in making choices about theological education and formation for ministry.
We specialise in the face-to-face mode of teaching, and place a high value on the quality of the learning experience in the classroom. Our students report that they appreciate the possibility of engaging directly with lecturers and with their fellow students. We endeavour to provide a vibrant learning community, which stimulates enquiry and facilitates deep learning.
The diversity of the student body adds to its richness. A large number of full-time students are studying for ordination to priesthood in the Catholic Church. They come from a variety of dioceses and religious communities both locally and internationally. Other students are currently or will eventually be engaged in some form of ministry in the Church. For all students the experience of studying theology has contributed to a deepening of their faith.
There are a number of course options. Those seeking a solid theological formation normally take the ecclesiastical Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology (STB). This is a five year degree that gives a foundation in Philosophy and Biblical Studies and offers a comprehensive study of Catholic Theology. While this is a standard ordination pathway, it is open to others, especially those who intend to continue theological studies. The three year Bachelor of Theology (BTh) is the most popular degree, as it gives both breadth and depth in the study of theology and related disciplines. It is possible to take one year of the BTh and graduate with a Diploma of Christian Studies (DipChSt), or after two years to graduate with the Associate Degree in Christian Thought and Practice (AssocDegChThPr). The Master of Arts (MA) is best suited to those who already have a professional qualification and wish to broaden their theological and religious knowledge. The Graduate Certificate in Arts offers a short, foundational course in theology.
Our academic staff are highly qualified and have scholarly interests that range across the various philosophical and theological disciplines. Both the riches of the Catholic philosophical and theological tradition as well as the best of contemporary scholarship inform their teaching. We are thus well placed to provide good academic supervision to research students.
We have been teaching theology continuously since the 1880s, when St Patrick’s College Manly was established for the education of students for the priesthood. In 1954 we were granted the status of an ecclesiastical faculty by the Holy See. We are governed by the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana and our own Statutes. We are the only such faculty in Australia. In 1996 we relocated from Manly to the present campus in Strathfield. We were also a founding member of the Sydney College of Divinity, whose first degrees were awarded in 1983. We continue to teach their awards.
Our long history and the generosity of the pioneer priests meant that a fledgling library could grow to be one of the most significant Catholic theological libraries in Australia. The Veech Library has an important collection of Australian church history, as well as major journals and books in Philosophy, Theology, Biblical Studies, Liturgy and the other disciplines taught at CIS.
The opportunity to study at CIS is an opportunity to participate in a theological education that is vocational in the broadest sense. Students deepen their faith and the understanding of it, and are thus formed for greater engagement in the church and in the world.
Rev Dr Gerard Kelly