FAQs

General Information

WHAT IS THE LAY DIVISION?

St. John Vianney Theological Seminary has three divisions of formation: Seminarian division, Permanent Deacon division and Lay Division. The Lay Division is comprised of the Denver Catholic Biblical and Catechetical Schools, and offers a variety of other Enrichment Courses and Short Courses throughout the year. For the 2020-2021 year, we expect to lead 75 courses hosted in parishes throughout the dioceses of Denver and Colorado Springs with a total of more than 2,100 current students and 3,000 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 as they commit to a life of Christian discipleship. It doesn’t matter if you have been a long-time student of Scripture or are a beginner, our program is designed to help the average, busy Catholic discover the timelessness of God’s Word and transform your life!

The Biblical School program is a four-year in-depth reading and studying of every book of the Bible within the context of the Catholic Tradition. 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 of study builds upon the previous year(s) 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 as the CBS to help the average, busy Catholic encounter the person of Jesus Christ through the study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) and become committed disciples. Classes are formatted similarly to the Biblical School (i.e. same tuition, same format, same calendar, same student expectations, etc.). However, while the Biblical School is a four-year journey through the Bible, the Catechetical School is a two-year journey through the CCC’s four major sections of the Christian life.

The Catechetical School (formerly known as “Pillars”) is now called: The Ladder of Ascent.
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 Enrichment Courses do not have small groups, discussion questions, or tests. For the 2020-2021 year, we will offer the following Enrichment Courses:

  • Apologetics for the New Evangelization: Practical Catholicism, with Mr. John LaBarbara
  • Dante’s Divine Comedy: A User’s Guide to Salvation, with Dr. Seth Fabian
  • Icon: An Exploration of Catholic Art and Culture, with Dr. R. Jared Staudt
  • The Wisdom of the Saints: The One Thing Necessary, with Mr. Daniel Campbell

Throughout the year, we also offer other Short Courses, which meet for four to twelve weeks. These Short Courses are announced throughout the year as they are scheduled. Click HERE to go to the Short Courses page.

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

Please visit our Student Testimonials page to read personal accounts and watch video testimonials from students about how our various programs have changed their lives.

WHY DOES SOMEONE TYPICALLY ENROLL?

Students enroll in either school for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons we hear most frequently are: (1) to grow in the knowledge and love of the faith; (2) to encounter Jesus personally through study and prayer; (3) to learn more about the Mass, the sacraments, and the moral life of the church; (4) to engage in and develop a community of like-minded Catholics to share the journey of conversion; (5) to catechize family members, especially children and grandchildren; (6) to learn how to explain and share the faith with others; (7) to find emotional and/or spiritual healing through study of the material and small group discussions; (8) to simply learn how to read the Bible and/or Catechism and be able to reference it when needed; and finally, (9) to feel more confident and effective to participate in parish ministries.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO A PASTOR?

Pastors frequently tell us that parishioners who have studied with us (current students and alumni) are far more passionate and committed to their faith, more likely to volunteer time to their parish, donate more generously, and are more involved in parish ministries or committees.

HOW IS THE DENVER CATHOLIC BIBLICAL SCHOOL DIFFERENT FROM OTHER BIBLE CLASSES?

Bible studies at the parish level often have great resources, including study guides and video-based lecture programs. These are wonderful courses that often cover selected themes or portions of the Bible, and may include group discussion of the material. The great strengths of the Biblical and Catechetical Schools are the LIVE instruction from highly-qualified instructors who have studied Scripture extensively and are passionate about the Catholic faith and additionally, the exchange during small group discussions overseen by the same instructor. While video programs are formative and excellent in their own way, they 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 our 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 focused education on Salvation History and Church teaching.

DO YOU HOLD INFORMATION SESSIONS?

Yes, we hold free Information Sessions in our hosting parishes during July and August for all of our upcoming classes that fall. During Information Sessions, you will receive a dynamic talk by one of our instructors and receive information about what to expect from the program. Please visit the “Register Here” page on our website for the latest Information Session schedule. All new students are very strongly encouraged to attend an Information Session before starting class, so they are fully informed before committing to the program.

CAN MY TEENAGER ATTEND CLASSES?

It is a long-standing policy that CBS and CCS students must be adults; that is, 18 years old or older. There are several reasons that this policy is in place. Most importantly, quite often class and homework questions involve mature content, and since small group discussions review class and homework, a youth might be exposed to inappropriate mature and complicated personal life matters. Teenagers under the age of 18 may enroll in Enrichment Courses, as those courses are lecture-based and do not involve small group discussions. (An accompanying adult family member must be enrolled in the Enrichment Course with the minor student.)

CAN I PICK UP WHERE I LEFT OFF?

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

DOES THE BIBLICAL SCHOOL OFFER A DEGREE?

The Biblical School and Catechetical School 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 awards a Certificate of Catechetical Studies to individuals who fulfill the requirements of the two-year program. Enrichment Courses do not offer certificates.

CAN I GET COLLEGE CREDIT FOR MY STUDIES?

College credit was available for CBS and CCS students through Regis University through the 2019-2020 year. For the 2020-2021 year and moving forward, we are currently meeting with an acredited college to offer this option again to CBS and CCS students. To receive college credit, the student pays additional fees and completes additional coursework.

CAN I AUDIT CLASS?

Auditing class is available for Biblical School and Catechetical School only. Auditing is not available for Enrichment Courses.

Auditors must be Biblical or Catechetical School graduates. Biblical School graduates may audit Biblical School; Catechetical School graduates may audit Catechetical School. Auditors attend the lecture portion of class and are typically seated at their own table in the rear of the classroom. Auditors do not participate in small group discussions, although they may coordinate with other auditors to form their own small groups for discussion. To sign up to audit for 2020-2021, visit the “Register Here” page on our website. There is no registration fee or tuition for auditors, however auditors may purchase a Student Workbook for $25.00. Auditors may also purchase any of the books regularly sold by the Biblical School at the regular purchase price. The current book list is posted on the Student Documents page of our website.
[NOTE:  Auditors MUST be graduates of the entire four-year CBS or two-year CCS program. 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 many locations throughout the Archdiocese of Denver and the Diocese of Colorado Springs. Registration for 2020-2021 classes is now open. Visit the “Register Here” page for more information and to register for class.

HOW MANY HOURS EACH WEEK WILL THIS REQUIRE?

Biblical and Catechetical School classes are two hours in length. Enrichment Courses are 90 minutes in length. For CBS/CCS classes, weekly reading and (thoughtful) homework responses typically require 1 – 3 hours each week for the average student. However, we always encourage students to do their best each week with whatever time they have, even if they are limited in the time they can spend with coursework.

HOW MANY WEEKS WILL WE MEET?

Our academic year consists of 30 weeks of classes, spanning September through May, with several breaks typically in the fall and spring, as well as time off for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Click HERE for the 2020-2021 calendar (also posted on the Student Documents page).

CAN I MAKE UP A MISSED CLASSES?

Students who cannot attend their regular class in a given week are encouraged to attend another class at a different location that week. If that is not possible and an absence occurs, we allow our students to record lectures and share those recordings within their small group and/or with other classmates (It is prohibited to distribute 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 must be completed and turned in 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?

For classes that run for multiple years (Biblical and Catechetical School), the class day, time, and location will remain the same for the duration of the program. If a student decides to change class locations during the year or between years, he/she is free to do so and should contact the instructor and office to notify of the location change.

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 dynamic, 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 can take multiple classes between the different programs (CBS, CCS, Enrichment) at the same time, if they so desire. To register for multiple classes, contact the office.

DO I GET A NEW INSTRUCTOR EVERY YEAR?

For Biblical and Catechetical Schools, students will typically have a different instructor each year. This is a great benefit to the students because each instructor brings his/her own unique talents, perspectives, and witness to the classroom.

Teacher assignments are announced and posted at the very beginning of the academic year, right around September 1. All registered students will receive an email around Labor Day with their instructor’s name and contact information.

WHICH INSTRUCTOR IS TEACHING WHERE?

Teacher assignments are announced and posted at the very beginning of the academic year, right around September 1. All registered students will receive an email around Labor Day with their instructor’s name and contact information.

We feel our instructors are excellent and very passionate about sharing the faith, so no matter who teaches your class, you’re in very good hands!

Class Information

HOW LONG IS A BIBLICAL AND CATECHETICAL SCHOOL CLASS?

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. Weekly CBS/CCS classes are two hours long; Super Saturday classes run 9am to about 3pm for one Saturday each month. 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 are given an exceptional lecture by their instructor and then have their questions answered. The lecture prepares students for their own reading of the text and their homework assignment for the upcoming week. This 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?

Weekly Biblical and Catechetical School classes follow this format:

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

For Enrichment Courses, the format is a simple 90 minute lecture, followed by Q&A. There are no small groups.

HOW BIG IS THE CLASS?

Class sizes vary by location, but typically range from 25 to 50 students.

WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES AS A STUDENT?

For both Biblical and Catechetical School students: (1) Attend class regularly (up to 6 absences throughout the year are typically permitted; speak with the instructor for unusual circumstances) and complete all weekly homework assignments; (2) Complete take-home, open-book semester tests; and (3) Pay tuition in full by May 15 of the spring semester.

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 award letter grades for the four-year CBS program or the two-year CCS program. Homework and tests are Pass/Fail. Upon successful completion of all coursework each year (complete all homework, midterm and spring review test) and after meeting attendance requirements, the student is able to move on to the next year of study.

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

Auditing class is available only to graduates of the Biblical and Catechetical Schools. Regular students must meet attendance requirements, complete weekly assignments and semester tests. However, homework and 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 students engage the material intellectually and spiritually. As for the “tests,” they are take-home and open book, which helps students to see 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 completing homework 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. Small group discussions are guided by the questions in that week’s homework assignment, so discussions remain focused on the lesson at hand. Students report that 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, our small groups also foster a deeper sense of community and great relationships with newfound friends in the Catholic community at large.

HOW OFTEN TO SMALL GROUPS CHANGE?

Small groups assignments 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 (located under Student Portal dropdown) for the Book Order Form. While many books are listed for a particular year of study, students are welcome to purchase any books throughout the year that are listed on the form. Book purchases benefit our St John Paul II Student Scholarship Fund.

HOW CAN I PURCHASE BOOKS?

Books are available to purchase throughout the school year in the classroom and all year from the school office. We also hold a book sale in CBS classes in the spring, so students are able to purchase the books they’ll need for their next year of study. Please contact your instructor or the office for more information. If you have arranged to pick up your books from the office, please call 303.715.3195 or 303.715.3287 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. Click HERE for the CBS Student Documents page (found on the Student Documents).

NOTE:  The Summer Reading Assignments for the summer of 2020 are suspended. However, students should still listen to their two audio lectures (found on the CBS Student Documents page) and may feel free to read their summer text, if they wish to complete the reading for their own enjoyment and enrichment.

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 a summer Information Session where one of our instructors explained what to expect from the program. While we strongly urge new students attend one of these sessions before class begins, we certainly do not prevent any student from registering if they cannot make it to an Information Session. Students who missed the summer Information Session will simply get a mini-session at the first day of class by their instructor.

HOW AND WHERE DO I REGISTER?

Registration for 2020-2021 classes is now open. Click HERE for online registration. For assistance with registration, contact the office at 303.715.3195.

Tuition + Discount Information

WHAT IS THE COST FOR TUITION AND BOOKS?

2020-2021 tuition is as follows (all tuition below includes a $20 registration fee):

— $620.00 for Biblical School and Catechetical School
— $445.00 for year-long Enrichment Courses (Apologetics, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Icon: Catholic Art & Culture, Wisdom of the Saints)
— Short Courses vary in length, thus tuition varies. Short Courses are announced throughout the year as they are scheduled.

Tuition includes the Student Workbook for Biblical and Catechetical Schools. The cost of any other required books is additional (typical 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 benefit our St John Paul II Student Scholarship Fund to help all students seeking financial assistance.

ARE THERE DIFFERENT TUITION PAYMENT OPTIONS/PLANS?

Yes, we offer flexibility with regards to tuition payments. Payment options include: (1) Pay for year: Due September 15; (2) Pay by semester: Pay half by September 15, pay half by January 15; (3) Partial payments throughout the year: Make first payment by Sept 15, then make as many payments as you desire so your account is paid in full by May 15.

Regardless of the plan you choose, your tuition must be paid in full by May 15 of the spring semester.

ARE THERE ANY DISCOUNTS OR TUITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS AVAILABLE?

Yes, we offer the following discounts:

  • Seniors (65+), Active Military, Veteran, First Responder, Parish Volunteer Catechist: 10% discount
  • Part-time employee of a Catholic ministry, Diocesan department, Catholic school: 50% discount
  • Full-time employee of a Catholic ministry, Diocesan department, Catholic school: 100% discount (pay only reg fee)

To qualify for discounted tuition, the student is required to provide documentation of their military/employment status by Oct 15 of the fall semester.

Limited tuition assistance from our St John Paul II Student Scholarship Fund may be available to those who truly need financial help. To apply, contact the office to request the Tuition Assistance Application (online form). Submission deadline: September 1.

Our Director evaluates all requests submitted by September 1 and then determines each student’s assistance award. The director strives to help as many applicants as possible. All students receiving tuition assistance are notified before classes begin. To be considered for Tuition Assistance, the student MUST (1) be registered for class and (2) have paid at least the $20 registration fee. Late requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis; financial awards for late submissions may be limited to lesser amounts. Contact the office to request the Tuition Assistance Application (online form).

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, we were informed by the Veteran’s Administration representative from Regis University that because CBS/CCS is a non-degree program it is not eligible to be on the VA-approved list.