FAQs

General Information

WHAT IS THE LAY DIVISION?

St. John Vianney Theological Seminary has three divisions of formation: priests, deacons, and laity. The Lay Division houses the Denver Catholic Biblical and Catechetical Schools, and offers a variety of other supplemental courses and programs throughout the year. As of 2018, there are 61 courses hosted in parishes throughout the dioceses of Denver and Colorado Springs with a total of more than 2000 current students and 3000 alumni.

WHAT IS THE CATHOLIC BIBLICAL SCHOOL (CBS)?

The Denver Catholic Biblical School was founded in 1982 by Sr. Macrina Scott (d. 2016) in response to Vatican II’s call for a renewal in the study of Sacred Scripture among the people of God. Our mission is to help people personally encounter the living Christ in Scripture and commit to a life of Christian discipleship. Whether you have been a long-time student of the Scriptures or are a beginner, this program is designed to help the average, busy Catholic discover the timelessness of God’s Word and transform your life!

The program is a four-year in-depth reading and studying of all the books of the Bible within the context of the Catholic Tradition. The Sacred Scriptures are presented in an integral and integrated way: every book of the Bible is studied and the connection between the books of the Bible is demonstrated.  Each year builds upon the previous year and looks forward to the next.  The following is the plan of study for the program:

FIRST YEAR:  From Eden to Exile: Salvation History from Genesis to 2 Maccabees
SECOND YEAR:  Proclaiming the Kingdom: The Synoptic Gospels, Acts and the Letters of Paul
THIRD YEAR:  A Future and a Hope: The Prophets, Tobit, Judith and Esther
FOURTH YEAR:  Wisdom and the Word: The Psalms and Wisdom Literature; Catholic Epistles; John and Revelation

Please watch excellent student testimonials here.

WHAT IS THE CATHOLIC CATECHETICAL SCHOOL (CCS)?

The Catechetical School shares the same mission of the CBS to help the average, busy Catholic encounter the person of Jesus Christ through the study of the Catechism and become committed disciples. Everything is run in exactly the same way as the Biblical School (i.e. same tuition, same format, same calendar, same student expectations, etc.), except while the Biblical School is a four year journey through the Bible, the Catechetical School is a two year journey through the Catechism’s four major sections of the Christian life.

The Catechetical School program is called: “The Ladder of Ascent” (formally called “Pillars”)
FIRST YEAR:  Section 1: The Creed; Section 2: The Liturgy and Sacraments
SECOND YEAR:  Section 3: The Moral Life; Section 4: The life of Prayer

Please watch excellent student testimonials here.

WHAT OTHER PROGRAMS ARE OFFERED?

In addition to the Biblical and Catechetical School programs, the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary Lay Division offers other year-long and shorter Enrichment Courses for the education and formation of Catholics. These programs do not have any small groups, discussion questions, or tests (which are discussed in other  questions below). As of 2018, we offer the following year-long week programs (other unique Short Courses are announced as they are scheduled individually each year).

  • Apologetics: Practical Catholicism
  • The Art of Living: Mastering the Virtuous Life
  • Pilgrimage: A Journey Through Church History
  • Dante’s Divine Comedy: A User’s Guide to Salvation

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF THE LAY DIVISION ON A STUDENT'S LIFE?

Please visit the testimonials webpage to read personal accounts from students about how the programs have changed their lives.

WHY DOES SOMEONE TYPICALLY ENROLL?

Students often enroll in either school for the following reasons: to grow in the knowledge and love of the faith; to encounter Jesus personally through study and prayer; to learn more about the Mass, the sacraments, and the moral life of the church; to develop a community of like minded Catholics to share the journey of conversion; to catechize their children or grandchildren; to learn how to explain and share the faith with others; to find emotional and/or spiritual healing through study of the material and small group discussions; simply learning how to read the Bible and/or catechism and be able to reference it when needed; finally, to feel more confident to participate in parish ministries.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO A PASTOR?

Pastors frequently note that their parishioners who are students and graduates are far more passionate and committed to their faith, more likely to volunteer time to their parish, donate more generously, and serve parish ministries or committees.

HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT FROM OTHER BIBLE CLASSES?

Bible studies offered by parishes often have great resources, including small group study guides, and video based lecture programs. These are wonderful courses that often cover selected themes or portions of the Bible, and they generally include discussion of the material. The strength of the Biblical and Catechetical School lies in the live instruction from quality instructors, who all have a Master’s degree in Theology, and the small group discussions overseen by the same instructor. Video programs, though formative and excellent in their own way, do not offer the same quality and depth of formation found in our program of study. Other parish group studies that may have live instructors do not benefit from a time tested and life changing integrated curriculum that takes the student through every book of the Bible or every chapter of the Catechism, thus imparting both a general and specific education on Salvation History and Church teaching.

DO YOU HOLD ANY INFORMATION SESSIONS?

Yes, we give information sessions in multiple parishes throughout July and August for CBS, CCS, and all our supplemental courses. During these sessions, you will receive a dynamic talk by one of our instructors and get information about what to expect from the program. Please check our website for the latest information session schedule. All new students are ideally expected to attend an information session before attending class so they are fully informed before committing to the program.

CAN MY TEENAGER ATTEND CLASSES?

It is a long-standing policy that students of the CBS and CCS be adults, that is, 18 years old or older. There are a variety of reasons that this policy is in place, including mature lecture content and the inappropriateness of a minor to sit with adults and seniors at small group discussing mature and complicated personal life matters. However, teenagers are allowed to attend our supplemental programs (because there are no small groups) so long as they are accompanied by an adult family member.

CAN I PICK UP WHERE I LEFT OFF?

Generally, the answer is yes. However, the curriculum changed around 2003 so we highly recommend that anyone who took classes prior to that timeframe and did not graduate to re-take classes. Please contact the office for details.

DOES THE BIBLICAL SCHOOL OFFER A DEGREE?

The Biblical School and Catechetical Schools do NOT offer degree programs. The Catholic Biblical School awards a Certificate of Biblical Studies to individuals who fulfill the requirements of the four-year program.  The Catechetical School Pillars program awards a Certificate of Catechetical Studies to individuals who fulfill the requirements of the two-year program. Apologetics, Pilgrimage, and Art of Living do not offer certificates. {NOTE: See below for information on college credit from Regis University}

CAN I GET COLLEGE CREDIT FOR MY STUDIES?

Yes, through Regis University. For an additional cost and the completion of additional homework requirements, a Biblical School student can receive 3 undergraduate religious studies credit hours for the whole year (September through May). A Catechetical School student can receive 3 undergraduate religious studies credit hours per semester (September through January; January through May) thus bringing the total credit able to be accumulated for the year to 6 credits.

CAN I AUDIT THE PROGRAM A SECOND TIME?

The auditing option is available only to those students who have graduated from the Biblical or Catechetical School. Auditing students may attend the lecture portion of the weekly classes (and auditors typically sit at a table in the back of the classroom to form a group of their own). Auditors may not participate in the small group discussions, although they may coordinate with other auditing students to form their own small groups for discussion. Graduates who want to audit may register via our website and select the “auditor” box. There is no registration fee or tuition for auditors, however they cost of the workbook is $25.
[NOTE:  Students MUST be graduates in order to qualify to audit a course. Auditors cannot be current students who want to “re-take” a year.]

Schedule + Location Information

WHERE AND WHEN ARE CLASSES HELD?

We offer both morning and evening classes at various locations throughout the Archdiocese of Denver and the Diocese of Colorado Springs so that the programs are accessible as possible. We typically announce new classes in March and open up registration around April 1.

 

Please check our website for the latest listings of class locations.

HOW MANY HOURS EACH WEEK WILL THIS REQUIRE?

Classes are two hours in length. Scriptural reading assignments and (thoughtful) homework responses typically require another 2-3 hours each week for the average student. However, we always ask students to do their best, even if they are able to dedicate less time than they’d like.

HOW MANY WEEKS WILL WE MEET?

The school year consists of 30 weeks of classes, spanning September to May, with breaks typically in the fall and spring, as well as time off for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. You can find the current academic calendar under the “Student Documents” tab under the Quick Links section on our homepage.

CAN I MAKE UP A MISSED CLASSES?

Students who are unable to attend their regular class are encouraged to find another class location that week. If that is not possible, we also allow our students to record lectures and share those recordings only within their small group and/or with other classmates; however, we prohibit the distribution of recordings to anyone outside of the student body. Students can miss up to six classes per year (e.g., three per semester), but all homework is due by the end of the school year—even for missed classes. Extraordinary circumstances leading to further absences can be discussed with the instructor who will happily work with the student.

IS IT THE SAME TIME AND LOCATION FOR ALL YEARS?

Yes, the class day, time, and location will not change for the duration of the program. However, if a student decides to attend another location, they are free to do so.

IS THERE A DISTANCE LEARNING OPTION?

Our successful format for the CBS and CCS is classroom based, lead by a qualified live instructor, with a strong focus on small group interaction. Because of that, it is unlikely that the program will be made available online. However, we are exploring options for teleconferencing our semester length classes very soon.  Those options are not yet in place and require more planning and discussion in order to maintain the integrity of our program and retain the value of the classroom interaction among students.

CAN I DOUBLE UP ON CLASSES OR TAKE OUT OF ORDER?

Students must complete all four years (CBS) or two years (CCS) in sequence because each year’s curriculum builds upon the previous, so it is important to take each year sequentially.  As such, we don’t allow students to take simultaneous years of the Biblical or Catechetical School in one year. However, students are allowed to take different programs at the same time, so long as they have sufficient time and energy to accomplish them well without burning out.

DO I GET A NEW INSTRUCTOR EVERY YEAR?

In the Biblical and Catechetical Schools, there is a new instructor assigned each year. This is a benefit to the students because they are able to learn from different instructors who bring their own unique talents, perspectives, and witness to the classroom.

Because class assignments can change throughout the summer, they are made public at the very beginning of the academic year, right around September 1.

WHICH INSTRUCTOR IS TEACHING WHERE?

Instructor assignments are announced by September 1 — just before classes begin — as it takes all summer to finalize the schedule. But, all our instructors are excellent, so no matter who teaches your class, you’re in very good hands!

Class Information

WHAT’S A TYPICAL CLASS LIKE FOR BIBLICAL AND CATECHETICAL SCHOOLS?

Through lectures, small-group discussions and weekly coursework, the instructor guides students through the Bible or the Catechism and helps them discover God’s story, so in turn, they can discover their own. Each weekly class is two hours long.  Following Lectio Divina (prayer time), students meet in small-groups for a 20-25-minute discussion based on their prepared weekly assignment. In the second part of the class the students meet to hear an exceptional lecture by their instructor and have their questions answered. The lecture prepares students for their own reading of the text and their homework assignment for the upcoming week. The combination of lecture, reading, and discussion has proven to be an effective and fruitful process of adult education.

WHAT IS THE CLASS FORMAT EACH WEEK?

The Biblical and Catechetical Schools have the same format:

15 minutes: Lectio Divina, Welcome, Announcements, etc.
25 minutes: Small Group time
5 minute break before lecture
75 minutes for lecture and Q&A.

For our Enrichment Courses, the format is a simple 90 minutes of lecture with Q&A. There are no small groups.

HOW BIG IS THE CLASS?

Class sizes vary, but typically range from 30 to 50 students. Sometimes there are more, sometimes less.

WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES AS A STUDENT?

For both Biblical and Catechetical School students: 1) attend class regularly (6 absences throughout the year are typically permitted; speak with the instructor for unusual circumstances) and complete the weekly homework assignments. 2) Tests are take home and open book (unless you are getting credit for Regis University). 3) Finish paying your tuition by May 15.

All in all, we ask students to simply do their best from week to week without stressing. Just have fun and enjoy learning about the faith!

ARE ASSIGNMENTS AND TESTS GRADED?

We do not issue any letter grades for the  4 year CBS program or the  2 year CCS program. Homework and tests are Pass/Fail. However, our instructors do indicate whether or not a student has completed all of their course work. Students who have selected to get Regis University credit will receive a letter grade based on their work.

I’M NOT BIG ON HOMEWORK AND TESTS. CAN I JUST AUDIT?

Only graduates of the Biblical and Catechetical Schools are able to audit without doing the work (see question below). The weekly assignment and semester tests are not as difficult as people initially think, but are very simple in reality, and greatly facilitate the learning process. The weekly assignment is principally the reading of the Scriptural or Catechetical text along with the preparation of six questions which help the students understand and apply the lessons to their life. The goal of the questions is to have the students engage the material intellectually and spiritually. As for the “tests,” they are take-home and open book (unless a student is getting credit for Regis University), which helps students to appreciate the “test” more as a review of the semester, rather than a stressful exam, which it isn’t! Everything is designed for the average, busy “Joe Catholic” in the pew to simply do their best without stressing.

HOW BIG ARE SMALL GROUPS? WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

Small groups are composed of 6-8 individuals.

 

Directed small group discussions have an effective and valuable place in the adult learning process. By expressing the lessons in their own words, students better retain what they have learned, deepen their understanding of the material, and improve their ability to share it with others. Our small group discussions are guided by the questions answered in that week’s homework assignment, so discussions remain focused on the lesson at hand. Students report the small group discussions have helped them better see how God is working in people’s lives and find Scripture is brought to life in new ways. What’s more, a deeper sense of community and great relationships are fostered by our small groups.

HOW OFTEN TO SMALL GROUPS CHANGE?

Small groups, composed of 6-8 individuals, change every year. Depending on the class size, sometimes there will be some completely new people in the new group and sometimes not.

CAN I BE IN THE SAME SMALL GROUP AS FAMILY?

Family members and spouses do not attend the same small groups together in order to better facilitate discussion and fellowship with new members of the Church community. Every year new groups are formed with new classmates for this same purpose. That being said, spouses and family members can sit together during prayer and the lecture if they wish.

WHAT BOOKS ARE USED FOR THE CLASSES?

Please visit the Student Documents page for book information specific to the class year.

HOW CAN I PURCHASE BOOKS?

Books are available to purchase throughout the school year in the classroom and all year from the school office. During the spring semester, books for the following year of study for rising classes are also made available for purchase. Please contact your instructor or the office for more information. If you wish to pick up your books from the office, please call 303.715.3195 in advance to be sure someone is available to help you with the purchase.

IS THERE A SUMMER HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT?

Yes, for Biblical School students only. A brief summer reading assignment with a few homework questions should be completed and turned in the first day of class. Students can get their assignments by clicking on “Student Documents” under the “Student Portal” dropdown at the top of this page.

Registration Information

CAN I REGISTER IF I HAVEN’T ATTENDED AN INFORMATION SESSION?

Yes. However, we find that students are more successful over the course of the two- or four-year program if they have attended the information session in the summer and listened to one of our instructors explain what to expect from the program. While we do require new students attend one of these sessions before class begins, we certainly do not prevent them from registering if they cannot. They will simply get a mini-session at the first day of class by their instructor.

HOW AND WHERE DO I REGISTER?

Registration for all of our 2019-2020 locations opened April 1, 2019. Students can register online HERE. For assistance with registration, call our office at 303.715.3195.

Tuition + Discount Information

WHAT IS THE COST FOR TUITION AND BOOKS?

Tuition (includes $20 registration fee) is as follows:

— $620 for the Biblical School and Catechetical Schools
— $445 for our year-long Enrichment Courses (Apologetics, Art of Living, Pilgrimage: Church History, Dante)
— Semester length courses vary in tuition and are announced individually.

Tuition includes the Student Workbooks for Biblical and Catechetical Schools. The cost of any other required books is additional (they typically cost around $75 per year.) Tuition helps the Biblical and Catechetical Schools employ qualified instructors and staff to serve the parishes in the Archdiocese of Denver and the Diocese of Colorado Springs. All book sales go towards our John Paul II Scholarship Fund to help all students seeking financial assistance.

ARE THERE DIFFERENT TUITION PAYMENT OPTIONS/PLANS?

Yes, payments can either be made at the beginning of the year, one for each semester, or monthly from September to May. Tuition balances must be paid in full by May 15 of the spring semester.

ARE THERE ANY DISCOUNTS OR TUITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS AVAILABLE?

Yes, we offer 10% discounts for seniors (65 and older), active military, veterans and first responders, and parish Catechists.

 

Limited tuition assistance from our St. John Paul II Scholarship Fund may be available to those who truly need financial help. To apply, contact the office to request a Tuition Assistance Form, then submit it by the September 1 deadline. Our Director evaluates all requests as of September 1 to make decisions on the distribution of tuition assistance funds. He strives to help as many applicants as possible. All students receiving tuition assistance are notified before classes begin. Students must be registered for class to be considered for tuition assistance. Late requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis; financial awards for late submissions may be limited to lesser amounts.

IS THERE A DISCOUNT FOR ARCHDIOCESAN LAY MINISTERS AND CATHOLIC SCHOOL EMPLOYEES?

Every year there are various half-off (50%) scholarships for full-time Catholic school employees and full-time employees working anywhere for the Catholic apostolates, ministries, and parishes. There is a 10% discount in the Catechetical School for any parish catechist, as well as seniors and military.

DEACONS RECEIVE A FULL SCHOLARSHIP. DO DEACON’S WIVES ALSO QUALIFY?

At this time, the scholarship only extends to deacons. If a wife attends, it is considered a nice two-for-one!

DOES THE G.I. BILL COVER TUITION?

As of December 2015, the Veteran’s Administration representative from Regis University has told us that because CBS is a non-degree program it is not eligible to be on the VA-approved list.