Intellectual Develpoment in the Propaedeutic Year can be understood in the context
of the Church’s efforts to make disciples, starting with oneself and one's knowledge of the Faith. Growing in our belief that Jesus is the Son of God enables us to experience life in Him. It
encouarges us to deepen our relationship with Him, who alone is the Way, the Truth and the LIfe. Therefore, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is an ideal tool in thinking about, coming to
know and follow more fully, Jesus Christ the Messiah, ‘the Anointed One’ sent to bring us the ‘Good News’ of God’s love.
The Propaedeutic Year has, as its characteristic theme, the Gospel account of The Road to Emmaus (cf. Luke 24: 13-35). When Jesus meets the disciples on their journey, a profound exchange of Faith takes place that leads them to recognise Him 'at the breaking of bread'. The course is therefore structured around these moments of the journey, providing also a catechetical link or background to the work that is done in the spiritual and human development programmes.
Ultimately, this course aims to bring about a deeper appreciation of what a vocational encounter with Christ really means, in the Truth that He alone is, and in the context of the Church today in which the person now feels called to serve. For this reason, the course, although clearly never a substitute for individual responsibility in his personal spiritual and human formation, encourages and gives ‘content ’to the process: it strives to encourage openness to God, as manifested in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Such openness will hopefully inform the person as to what Christ teaches, and so, conform the person more to the mind of Christ, in Spirit and in Truth.
The course covers most of the themes and topics as presented primarily in the Catechism and elsewhere in the Magisterium or official Church documents. It draws on the underlying philosophical and theological themes which belong to the essential fundamental principles of our Catholic Faith. This serves two important purposes: to offer the student an experience of the method of theology and philosophy, from a Catholic perspective; and also to emphasise the essential tenets of our Catholic and Apostolic Faith. From a practical perspective and as the Seminary’s natural point of reference, the course relates to and reflects on the life of the Church in England and Wales. Particular emphasis is therefore given to the major documents published by the Conference of Bishops of England and Wales.
Short courses (such as Introduction to Scriptures, Introduction to Theology, Church History and Canon Law, etc.) given by our resident or peripatetic staff, aim to build a wider understanding and a fuller appreciation of the Church ’s teaching. These are organized during the Year, according to staff availability and as the term diary allows.
Regular lessons are time-tabled. Individual tutorials or group-work are arranged in consultation with the students and reflecting the particular needs of the given year-group. Although the emphasis in this Propaedeutic Year is not a purely ‘academic’ one as such, it is nevertheless essential that students are given opportunities to build up their confidence (especially when they have not had formal higher education) and skills in this area, and as a thorough preparation for the next phase of their formation. Through essays and other assignments, the students are encouraged to develop academically in their reading, research, written, and analytical skills. Personal or group tuition, as requested by the students, endeavour to help resolve whatever difficulties are encountered in these areas.