A study of undergraduate Roman Catholic theology education, 1952-1976

Susan Marie Mountin, Marquette University


Catholic higher education experienced significant changes in the years following the Second Vatican Council. One area in which change was experienced most dramatically was in the teaching of college level theology. Patterns for change in college theology were already in place at least a decade or more before the Council took place. The effects were experienced in changes in the philosophy of education or purposes of college theology, the preparation of faculty for teaching, curriculum revisions, and the pastoral care of the students. This study argues that in the years before the Council one of the primary purposes of Catholic college theology was formation in the Catholic faith; but in the years after the Council the emphasis was placed on a more global understanding of the role of religion or faith in the lives of all people. Before the Council the teaching of theology in college was intricately linked to the student's experience of the faith tradition, particularly the Catholic faith. In the years after the Council, the invitation to pluralistic approaches to theology resulted in a philosophical framework that encouraged diversity at the expense of Catholic identity. Important changes in educational practice accompanied the change in philosophy. Faculty members sought credibility among their academic counterparts by seeking doctoral degrees; departments of religion or theology sought credibility by augmenting their resources, namely, faculty and library holdings; course offerings quadrupled in number and changed in content drastically from apologetics to dogma to religious studies. Finally, the pastoral care of the students, an integral part of the teaching of theology in the early years of this century, was relegated to campus ministry centers, separating the pastoral and teaching functions.

Recommended Citation

Mountin, Susan Marie, "A study of undergraduate Roman Catholic theology education, 1952-1976" (1994). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9433785.