What is Mater Ecclesiae College?
Mater Ecclesiae College can trace its history back to 1614, and entered into a collaborative partnership with St Mary’s in 2019. It existed first of all to facilitate the education of seminarians to the priesthood, being founded in 1614 when the Society of Jesus established a house of studies in Louvain for English Jesuits studying for degrees in theology and philosophy. St Mary’s is proud now to continue this tradition and so to be able to confer one of the oldest academic degrees in the country. By doing so it is supporting an important aspect of the Catholic Church’s mission.
However, these Pontifical degrees are not exclusively for seminarians. Increasingly lay men and women study for these degrees at every level, and as such they become well qualified to teach at Catholic universities and seminaries throughout the world. Through the establishment of Mater Ecclesiae, the study of these degrees in Britain makes us a potential home for the global Catholic community. To enrol for the Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology (STB), students who are not seminarians should have completed a certain amount of preparatory philosophical studies. For further information about this, please contact the Dean of the Faculty of Theology.
Those training for the priesthood are typically in formation for six years. The first two years are spent studying philosophy, and the third year is currently spent in a parish, which provides an important pastoral experience, before the remaining three years of study which focus on theology. All students of Mater Ecclesiae may receive the civil award, a BA (Hons) in Theological Studies from St Mary’s, as well as the Ecclesiastical degree, the Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology (STB) from Mater Ecclesiae, which has the faculties to award pontifical qualifications under the auspices of the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome.
In addition to the STB, it is intended that in the near future Mater Ecclesiae College will also award other Pontifical degrees, the STL, an ecclesiastical equivalent to a masters degree, the licence in theology, and the STD, which is an ecclesiastical doctoral qualification. Suitable candidates and clergy will be very welcome to study for these awards at St Mary’s, through Mater Ecclesiae. Being able to study for these higher degrees will significantly enrich the intellectual life of the Church in this country, as well as the existing research community in theology at St Mary’s University.
The partnership between Mater Ecclesiae and St Mary’s also brings significant benefits both with regard to student experience and through the breadth of expertise among lecturers on the programmes. Seminarians enjoy the time they spend studying at St Mary’s, and the experience of studying alongside lay students has proved fruitful for all concerned. The combined faculty of Mater Ecclesiae and St Mary’s staff now means a rich range of talent is available and able to serve both seminarians and lay students, and indeed contribute to the good of both Church and society at large.