Course Catalog - St. Bernard's

Course Offerings

The St. Bernard’s Course Catalog is a document of record issued every academic year containing information related to the courses offered throughout the curriculum. This document sets out the “beating heart” of the School: its mission to form and to educate takes place primarily in the classroom, in the midst of an encounter between faculty and students as they seek together ever greater knowledge and love of God. To view our 2023 - 2024 Course Catalog, click here.

The location of a course is designated below by one of two geographic areas, indicating the location from which the live course is taught. Students who are within commuting distance to that location are encouraged to attend class in person. All Catholic theology courses online can be accessed synchronously for those unable to attend in person or not in commuting distance. Live course times are listed in Eastern Standard Time (EST) and Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Further details on distance learning can be found here.

Summer 2024 Courses

May 13th - June 28th (Session I) | July 1st - August 16th (Session II)

Application deadline for Session I is April 19th; application deadline for Session II is June 21st.

Add/drop deadlines (with 100% refund) are May 17th [Session I] and July 5th [Session II].

BUF (Buffalo Campus) | ROC (Rochester Campus)

Session I

B/D435: Contemplative Prayer: A Monastic Immersion - Retreat Course Format (Lisa Lickona, S.T.L.)

This course will introduce students to the world of contemplative prayer within the context of Catholic theology and lived experience. Three online classes focusing on the experiences of prayer in the lives of the saints will serve as preparation for the five-day retreat at the Abbey of the Genesee. During the retreat, students will be invited to the experience of contemplation within a monastic environment that fosters silence, presence, stillness, and spaciousness.

3 credits | Abbey of the Genesee

June 24th - June 28th, 2024. Learn more and register here

C/D363: Marriage and Holy Orders: Sacraments at the Service of Communion (Matthew Kuhner, Ph.D.; Rev. Peter Van Lieshout, S.T.L.) [For deacons/diaconate candidates and their wives only]

“Two...sacraments, Holy Orders and Matrimony, are directed towards the salvation of others; if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so. They confer a particular mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1534). This course will explore these sacraments at the service of communion. Within the context of general ecclesial teaching on the nature and role of the sacraments, the specific scriptural, historical, doctrinal, and moral dimensions of Marriage and Holy Orders will be surveyed to provide a thorough understanding of each. Attention will be paid to the way in which these sacraments shape one’s day-to-day life and one’s overall mission in the Church. Contemporary difficulties and concerns will also be addressed.

3 credits | BUF and Online

Tuesdays, 6:00 - 9:00pm EDT, May 14th, May 21st, May 28th, June 4th, June 11th, June 18th, June 25th

CP435: The Art of Education: Natural and Artificial Intelligence (Erik van Versendaal, Ph.D.)

This course examines the purpose of education as a shared participation in the truth of reality. Following the witness of Socrates, we will consider the form of teaching that follows from this purpose: dialogical, embodied friendship centered around sacrificial leisure. We will likewise compare this understanding to the problem of sophistry that Plato diagnoses, where teaching is deformed through the severing of discourse from meaning. This pursuit will bring to light for us how education is not one philosophical theme among others, but both the proper setting and a crowning fruit of contemplating being for its own sake. On this foundation, we will assess technology’s claim to augment the mind's discovery of the world and communication among persons. We will reflect, finally, on the possibility of so-called ‘artificial intelligence,' asking whether it can genuinely support or only obstruct the enjoyment of truth as common that is the fulfillment after which reason naturally aspires.

3 credits | Online

Wednesdays, 6:00 - 9:00pm EDT, May 15th, May 22nd, May 29th, June 5th, June 12th, June 19th, June 26th

CP641: Philosophy of God (Matthew Pietropaoli, Ph.D.)

This course concerns the natural ascent of the human mind to a knowledge of the existence and the attributes of God – can God’s existence be proven, and can our language at least begin to represent God’s attributes without falling purely into metaphorical language or simple anthropomorphisms.

3 credits | Online

Thursdays, 6:00 - 9:00pm EDT, May 16th, May 23rd, May 30th, June 6th, June 13th, June 20th, June 27th

D210: "Lord, teach us to pray": An Introduction to Prayer and Discernment (Lisa Lickona, S.T.L.)

What is prayer? How does one pray? What is discernment? Is it possible to discover God’s will and respond to it? What does it mean to make “spiritual progress”? This course attempts to answer these questions by drawing on classical texts from Scripture and Tradition. The emphasis throughout the course will be on both theology and practice, as students bring their own lived experience into dialogue with the witness of Jesus, Mary, and the saints.

3 credits | ROC and Online

Tuesdays, 6:00 - 9:00pm EDT, May 14th, May 21st, May 28th, June 4th, June 11th, June 18th, June 25th

Session II

A205: Introduction to Biblical Studies (Matthew Ramage, Ph.D.)

The sequence of Sacred Scripture courses at St. Bernard’s is meant to instill habits and skills of reading the Bible that will nourish the spiritual life of the student and candidate for ministry. This first course lays a foundation for all other Scripture courses. It intends to head off simplistic and hackneyed interpretations of Dei Verbum and instead to pursue the development of a rigorous ecclesial hermeneutic. Students will learn the practical building blocks and essential theoretical principles for a Catholic theological approach to the interpretation of Sacred Scripture. Topics treated include biblical geography, biblical history, biblical languages, biblical narrative, the framework of theology, textual criticism, historical criticism, biblical canon, patristic interpretation, the four senses of Scripture, philosophical hermeneutics, and Dei Verbum.

3 credits | Online

Mondays, 6:30 - 9:30pm EDT, July 1st, July 8th, July 15th, July 22nd, July 29th, August 5th, August 12th

B/C460: Image of the Maker: the Theological Poetics of George MacDonald and J.R.R. Tolkien (Siobhan Latar, S.T.D.)

The great Catholic myth-writer, J. R. R. Tolkien, maintained that “we make because we are made in the image of a Maker.” He is not the only Catholic literary artist who understood our capacity to create, and more particularly, to create through language, to be a privileged and essential aspect of our human vocation. This course will draw on the penetrating insights of Catholic literary giants such as Paul Claudel, Flannery O'Connor, and J. R. R. Tolkien, as well as Tolkien's mentor, George MacDonald, to examine in more depth the role of creativity in human life. We will uncover both MacDonald and Tolkien’s understanding of the role of creativity and what it shows us about our relationship with creation, ourselves, and the Creator. We will spend time examining both their thought and examples of their own literary work that exemplify and embody the principles to which they testify.

3 credits | Online

Wednesdays, 6:00 - 9:00pm EDT, July 3rd, July 10th, July 17th, July 24th, July 31st, August 7th, August 14th

C/D329: The Gospel of Life: Life Issues and Contemporary Challenges (Matthew Kuhner, Ph.D.)

An exploration of the nature, demands, and consequences of the Gospel of Life, “that 'new' and ‘eternal' life which consists in communion with the Father, to which every person is freely called in the Son by the power of the Sanctifying Spirit…[in which] all the aspects and stages of human life achieve their full significance” (Evangelium Vitae, §1). After beginning with an overview of theological anthropology (centered upon key sources in Scripture and Tradition), the course then addresses moral issues concerning the beginning of life, its end, and each stage in between. These issues include, but are not limited to: abortion, contraception, violence and war, economic injustice, and euthanasia. The general aim of the course is two-fold: (1) to grant the student proficiency in engaging these challenges and (2) to identify the Church’s teaching on each issue, as well as the foundation of each teaching in the Gospel of Life.

3 credits | ROC and Online

Tuesdays, 6:00 - 9:00pm EDT, July 2nd, July 9th, July 16th, July 23rd, July 30th, August 6th, August 13th

CP661: Ethics (Erik van Versendaal, Ph.D.)

This course will articulate the general components necessary to a sustained, unified, and useful investigation into the moral life. With a privilege accorded to the Socratic, Platonic, Aristotelian, Augustinian, and Thomistic traditions, the course will consider the question of human purpose, namely to be happy, and the means that must be marshalled in order to achieve this happiness. Among the components to be examined are the following: how virtue, vice, and habit are related to the development of human character; how do we understand free choice and the many and varied roles that both reason and will play in the realization of a free choice; what is meant by conscience and its role in the moral life; is the society we live in and the friendships we enjoy necessary to the realization of a happy life; can the purely secular approach to human happiness succeed or must this be realized within a religious context?

3 credits | Online
Tuesdays, 6:00 - 9:00pm EDT, July 2nd, July 9th, July 16th, July 23rd, July 30th, August 6th, August 13th

D214: Spiritual Formation - Retreat Course Format (Lisa Lickona, S.T.L.)

This course is an introduction to the “school of prayer.” After a consideration of prayer of the Son of God, we will explore the different dimensions of the encounter with God in prayer through the lives and writings of the saints. Three online classes will serve as preparation for the five-day retreat at the Abbey of the Genesee in Piffard, New York. During the retreat, students will be invited to the experience of prayer within a monastic environment that fosters silence, presence, stillness, and spaciousness.

3 credits | Abbey of the Genesee

July 22nd - July 26th. Learn more and register here

Fall 2024 Courses

August 26th - December 13th, 2024

Application deadline for Fall is August 9th; add/drop deadline is September 6th.

BUF (Buffalo Campus) | ROC (Rochester Campus)

A202: Introduction to the Old Testament

Introduction to the Old Testament introduces exegetical methodology and theology of the Old Testament. Students will consider the fruits and the assumptions of exegesis, using and examining its methodologies both as helpful tools and as products of a particular era. Hebrew poetry and narrative, ritual and ethical instruction, prophecy, historiography, and novella will be analyzed as literature, and students will also examine the development of traditions within the texts of the canon. Since Sacred Scripture is double-authored, by both man and God, and interpreted in the context of the Catholic Church, A202 will also emphasize the theology of the Old Testament, with a special focus on the People of God, and will read spiritual readings of the Old Testament from the Church Fathers to present.

3 credits | Online

C/D202: The Revelation of God: Doctrine, Liturgy, and Sacraments (Catechism 1 and 2)

This course introduces us to those teachings that are central to the Catholic Faith as guided by Part One of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The Profession of Faith” §§1-1065, and to the liturgical practices and sacraments of the Catholic Faith as guided by Part Two of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The Celebration of the Christian Mystery” §§1066-1690.

3 credits | Online

C/D333: Catholic Bioethics at the Beginning of Life (Jean Baric Parker, D.Be.)

This course concentrates on bioethical topics and ethical principles that are most relevant at the beginning of human life. It commences with a biological examination of the beginnings of embryonic life, leading to an in-depth discussion of abortion, artificial contraception, natural family planning, NaPRO Technology, in vitro fertilization, gamete donation, surrogate pregnancy, fetal research, and other related topics. All topics are grounded in a discussion of the history of Catholic health care and fundamental Church teaching on natural law, human status, the human act, conscience, theology of the body, and the common good. Common secular arguments opposed to Church teaching in these areas are critiqued. All issues are considered in a highly practical light, with emphasis on real-life applications in pastoral, academic, and health care settings. This course will benefit health care professionals, clergy, chaplains, pastoral workers, life science researchers, ethics committee members, and ‘Catholics in the pew’ who are interested in learning more about applying Catholic bioethical principles to real life situations that they and their loved ones routinely encounter.

3 credits | ROC and Online

C/D380: The Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell (Daniel Drain, Ph.D. [Cand.])

This course seeks to unfold the Catholic Church’s rich teaching regarding the four “Last Things”: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. This course will reflect on questions surrounding the nature of death and sin, the relationship between finite freedom and providence, the relationship of time and eternity, the Last Judgment, Heaven, and the mystery of Christ’s descent into Hell on Holy Saturday. Its ultimate aim is to provide an overview of Catholic eschatology through a reflection on the meaning and substance of the theological virtue of Hope. The course will oscillate between a consideration of doctrinal and magisterial texts and representations of the eschatological questions in the popular imagination.

3 credits | ROC and Online

C217: Fundamental Moral Theology (Matthew Kuhner, Ph.D.)

This course introduces the fields of moral theology and Catholic Social Thought. Students will contemplate the purpose of moral theology and Catholic Social Thought in the life of the Church, their methods, and the problems they address. Topics will include sin and conversion, vice and virtue, methods of moral decision making, and the development and practice of Catholic Social Thought. (Formerly "Moral and Social Teachings")

3 credits | ROC and Online

C226: Liturgical and Sacramental Theology

An historical, anthropological and theological investigation of Christian worship and sacrament with special attention to the Roman Catholic Sacraments of baptism and Eucharist; historical overview of liturgical practices, texts, and theology from Jewish and scriptural origins to the 20th-century reforms of the Second Vatican Council; basic principles of liturgical and sacramental theology; and groundwork for interpreting liturgical documents and ritual texts from pastoral practice, multi/inter-cultural concerns, and ecumenical considerations. (Formerly “Worship and Sacraments”)

3 credits | ROC and Online

C302: Christology and Trinitarian Theology (Daniel Drain, Ph.D. [cand.])

This course treats the biblical, historical, and dogmatic dimensions of Christology and Trinitarian theology. It aims to treat the person and mission of Jesus Christ showing the mutual illumination and inseparability of anthropology and Christology, as well the unfolding of Trinitarian theology from the revelation of God fulfilled and completed in Christ. Central to the course will be an in-depth reflection on the statement of Gaudium et spes 22: “(…) Only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light (…) Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear”. The course will thereby introduce students to an understanding of Jesus Christ as a union of two natures in one divine person, and the One Triune God as a communion of three persons in one divine nature.

3 credits | ROC and Online

CP601: Introduction to Catholic Philosophy (Stephen Loughlin, Ph.D.)

This course centers the student upon the discipline of philosophy as it has been developed and practiced within the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. The methods particular to philosophical investigation will be examined as the philosopher seeks to articulate the nature of wisdom, how it can be attained, and especially incorporated into the entirety of one’s life. The student will understand the differences between philosophy, the sciences, and theology, as well as their respective complementarities, with a focus upon the supportive and illuminative role that philosophy plays in theological education.

3 credits | ROC and Online

CP611: Our Search for Meaning: The Beginning of the Greatest Conversation (Ancient Philosophy) (Marco Stango, Ph.D.)

A survey course from the beginning of philosophy with the pre-Socratics, through Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and ending with the Cynics, Skeptics, Epicureans, Stoics, and Neoplatonism. In particular, those problems posed by Heraclitus, Parmenides, Socrates, and Plato that are important to the philosophical tradition will be considered, Aristotle’s philosophy will be surveyed as a whole, and the themes that are central to post-Aristotelian philosophy will be examined.

3 credits | Online

CP631: Metaphysics (Marco Stango, Ph.D.)

This course examines the basic concerns and principles that undergird the whole of reality and guide the way by which we think of the ultimate things to which the mind can aspire: existence, essence, the categories of being, the transcendentals, the analogy of being, and the existence and creative activity of God. This course acts as a capstone study to the whole of philosophy and is preferably engaged upon at the end of one’s certificate/degree studies.

3 credits | Online

D211: Discernment and Formation for Ministry (Lisa Lickona, S.T.L.)

This course is an introduction to formation for diaconal ministry. The first half of the course is an exploration of the historical development of and the theological basis for the diaconate. Special attention will be given to the unity and relation of the four dimensions of formation and the deacon in his state in life (either marriage or celibacy). The second half of the course will focus on the integration of the spiritual and human dimensions of formation through attention to one’s lived encounter with God in and through the daily circumstances of life. To aid one in this pursuit of holiness through life — which is to “seek God in all things” — key aspects of Ignatian spirituality will be explored, including the importance of spiritual accompaniment, the function of spiritual direction, the basic principles of discernment of spirits, and the practice of the daily examen.

3 credits | ROC and Online

D214: Spiritual Formation (Lisa Lickona, S.T.L.)

This course seeks to approach the world of prayer in its unity with lived experience. Beginning with a consideration of the witness of the Son of God who “teaches us how to pray” in and through His relationship to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, we will then move to consider the lives of various saints, including Ignatius of Antioch, Anthony of the Desert, Benedict of Nursia, Bernard of Clairvaux, Teresa of Avila, Ignatius of Loyola, Francis de Sales, Therese of Lisieux, Charles de Foucauld, Teresa of Calcutta, and Tagashi Nagai. The attention to each figure will include both an awareness of their place in the history of Catholic spirituality and a consideration of their contribution to the life of prayer. Asynchronous lectures will focus on particular topics in the “practicum” of prayer, including spiritual direction, prayer to Mary, lectio divina, and Ignatian meditation/contemplation.

3 credits | ROC and Online

D215: Introduction to Pastoral Theology (Daniel Drain, Ph.D. [Cand.])

3 credits | Online

W500: Academic Research and Writing (Lisa Lickona, S.T.L.)

This course is intended for students who have never written or have been long removed from the task of writing a research paper. It will focus on research methods and techniques with an emphasis on: selecting a topic, identifying sources, as well as writing and grammar principles and style. Students will be afforded guidance and suggestions on how to compose a research document written on a scholarly level. Students will also receive helpful information for constructing theological questions and arguments.

1 credit | ROC and Online