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CCC Formation Program for Holy Orders

Those who are called to serve as deacons or priests are trained and tested within our formation program.  Before beginning the formation program, each candidate must complete the written application, participate in a psychological and vocational assessment, submit several letters of recommendation, have a civil child-abuse clearance and criminal history check, so that both the candidate and the bishops are satisfied that ordained service is where she or he might best serve God and neighbor.  Additionally, each candidate must sign our Statement of Belief, have a spiritual director, and must have a local community, a ministry, or be in the process of growing one. We also require that each candidate be involved with the CCC for at least three years before ordination.

Those seeking incardination are required to fulfill all the above, and have it submitted and accepted before incardination proceeds..  Some of this, such as seminary training, may have been completed in other programs or seminaries and will need to be documented, but what has not been completed must be done within our program.  

The following outlines our complete formation program.  For more information please contact Rev.Cait Finnegan, OMC at







The ministry of a priest--to serve people in their relationship to God--is a very sensitive and important one, and it must be exercised with all kinds of people, from the uneducated to the highly educated, and in a world that presents all kinds of problems.  Because of that, formation in view of the priesthood is an extremely important activity, and one that demands serious and dedicated work.  The following program of formation is comprehensive enough and serious enough to give candidates a solid preparation for their ministry.


There are three essential aspects to the preparation of a candidate for ordained ministry.  These are spiritual formation, pastoral formation, and academic formation.  Each one, along with its specific requirements, will be described below.


Acceptance into this program as a candidate for Holy Orders is not a promise of ordination, and it does not guarantee that a candidate will be ordained.  Rather it is an admission to a period of discernment and training.  Selection of a candidate for ordination is solely at the discretion of the candidate’s Bishop, is not subject to appeal, and may include criteria not expressly stated or implied here.


A person must be a committed member of the Celtic Christian Church for at least six months before applying for admission into the formation program.


In this program the word “candidate,” unless otherwise specified, applies both to persons seeking ordination and to already ordained persons seeking incardination.  In the case of the latter the requirements will be adapted as needed.





1.  Clergy Application.    As the first step, a candidate must answer a basic questionnaire and submit the documents requested in the application.  Of particular importance here are the transcripts of any academic work done, since this will be necessary to determine the specific course of study to be followed by any individual candidate.


2.  Criminal-History and Child-Abuse Clearances.    Small independent churches, of which the Celtic Christian Church is one, can be havens for persons with criminal or child-abuse histories.  In order to exercise due diligence in the admission of candidates to Holy Orders and in the incardination of ordained clergy persons, the Celtic Christian Church requires these two clearances (unless they are illegal in the candidate’s home state).  The specifics are given in the Clergy Application.


3.  Psychological Screening.    Each candidate will take a battery of psychological tests to provide his or her Bishop with information on, first, the candidate’s personality, abilities, weak points, and so on, and, second, on real or potential pathology.  The specifics are given in the Clergy Application.


4.  Yearly Evaluation.    The candidate’s Bishop, with the input of other persons working with the candidate, will evaluate him or her at the end of each year in the formation program.  The decision on the advancement or the dismissal of the candidate is the responsibility of his or her Bishop.  If the candidate is dismissed from the program, he or she will be informed of the reasons for this action and will be given full opportunity to discuss it with his or her Bishop.  If the candidate is advanced in the program, the results of the evaluation, including areas in which it is judged that greater effort is needed, will be communicated to the candidate.


5.  Mass and Sacraments.    Toward the end of the course of formation, the candidate will receive practical training in celebrating Mass and administering the Sacraments.  This training will be the responsibility of the candidate’s Bishop.





The priests of the Celtic Christian Church are to be available to people to serve them in their relationship to God, in all the varied and unpredictable circumstances of that relationship.  To be competent to serve in that way, they must themselves be persons of spiritual depth and maturity and growing in their own relationship with God, persons marked by solid emotional maturity and by personal integrity.


In order to foster as much as it can this eminently personal spiritual formation, the Celtic Christian Church has established the following requirements.


1.  Spiritual Director.    Guidance in the spiritual life is essential, if we are to progress in our relationship with God and if we are both to discern his will in our regard and to avoid pitfalls in our spiritual journey.  Hence all of our candidates for ordination are required to have a spiritual director.  This is particularly important for a person actually preparing for ordination.


It will be the responsibility of the candidate to find a spiritual director.  The candidate will then make that director known to his or her Bishop.  The Bishop will contact the director to establish a personal relationship with him or her.  While the matter of spiritual direction itself is confidential, the director will be responsible to the candidate's Bishop for advising the Bishop on the advisability of continuing that candidate in the formation program for Holy Orders or of dismissing him or her from the program.


2.  Yearly Retreat.   Each candidate for ordination will make a yearly directed retreat of some five days duration.  It is the responsibility of the candidate’s spiritual director to assist the candidate in organizing this retreat and in integrating its benefits into his or her spiritual life.


3.  Daily Prayer.  Each candidate will make time each day for personal prayer and for “lectio divina,” the prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture.


4.  Celtic Spirituality.  This is a beautiful and holistic view of our world and all of God’s creation.  It is joyful and inspiring in its approach to the world, while not at all denying the evil to be found in it.  It is a distinctive mark of the spirituality of the Celtic Christian Church.  Learning about this spirituality and integrating it into one’s spiritual life is a very important part of the spiritual formation of our candidates for ordination.  Further on in this text, the section on academic formation will list a large number of books and other studies that will enable the candidate to learn about Celtic spirituality.





As mentioned previously, the priests of the Celtic Christian Church are called to minister in very varied situations and to persons who vary greatly in personality, education and individual circumstances.  As much as it can, the Church’s formation program seeks to prepare its candidates for ministry in this very concrete world.  In view of this objective the following requirements have been established.


1.  Clinical Pastoral Education.   CPE provides hands-on pastoral work and discussion/criticism of that actual ministry.  It has proven to be an effective means of helping its students to better understand their own selves and their particular difficulties in ministering effectively, and in providing help in resolving such personal issues.  All of our candidates for ordination are required to take one unit of CPE, and they are encouraged to take further units if they are inclined and able to do so.


2.  Ministry.    During the entire course of formation the candidate will be involved in an appropriate pastoral ministry.  The choice of the ministry will the candidate’s, with the approval of his or her Bishop.  The supervision of the candidate’s work in this ministry will be the responsibility of the candidate’s Bishop.





It is essential for the priests of the Celtic Christian Church to have a solid academic formation in the various disciplines proper to their ministry. This is necessary if they are to serve and guide others correctly in their relationship to God, and if they are to be able to work with persons of all levels of education.


In order to provide that solid academic formation for its candidates for ordination, the Celtic Christian Church has determined the following thorough, and at the same time flexible, program of study.  All of its candidates are required to pursue this program.  The candidate’s Bishop is responsible for overseeing his or her compliance with the program and determining at what point the candidate can be accepted for ordination, first to the diaconate and later to the priesthood.





1.  Individual Program.   In very large part the Church’s candidates will be adults with family and work responsibilities and very often with limited financial means.  The Church, which does not have a seminary of its own, does not oblige its candidates to enroll in a seminary program of another church or in a university or divinity-school program.  In addition, a certain number of candidates will have already done some of the required studies.  Consequently the program of study will be tailored to each individual candidate.  The candidate’s Bishop will determine what needs to be done, using the documents, particularly the transcripts, sent to him or her with the Clergy Application.  The following paragraphs will indicate the numerous and varied means at the disposal of the Bishop and the candidate to assure a solid academic formation.


2.  Mentor.   To implement such an individual program of study, the Celtic Christian Church employs the mentor system.  The mentor, a person with the necessary training and experience, advises and guides the candidate in his or her study in view of ordination.  If advisable, other persons may serve as mentors in the specific areas of their expertise.  The mentor is appointed by the candidate’s Bishop.  The mentor’s input is requested by the Bishop in view of the candidate’s advancement in the program, or dismissal from it, and in view of the candidate’s ordination.


3.  College or Equivalent.   Ideally, a candidate beginning the program of formation will possess a college degree.  Barring that, an associate’s degree will be considered sufficient.  If going back to college to finish such a degree would be a real hardship, the candidate will work with his or her Bishop to determine what must still be done.  In many cases this remaining work can be completed by means of correspondence or online courses offered by reputable institutions.  A candidate finishing college in this way will be considered enrolled in the formation program.

4.  Seminary or University Courses.   When possible, candidates are very strongly encouraged to enroll in a seminary program or in a university theology program, or to take at least some of their courses in such a setting.  This will provide them with structured study, with professional teachers, and also with peer interaction.  The comprehensive nature and the difficulty of theological studies militate very much in favor of such study.  Because of the importance of the orientation of the seminary or university (the Celtic Christian Church is a sacramental church, close in doctrine to the Roman, Anglican and Orthodox Churches, but different from the Protestant Churches), the choice of a seminary or university must be approved by the Candidate’s Bishop.


5.  Internet Based Courses.   Candidates who have access to the Internet have the possibility of taking courses via that medium.  A very large number of such courses are available, many from excellent universities, and many of them are free of charge.  Care must be taken to choose courses that are of excellent quality and that are offered by reputable institutions.  All Internet-based courses or degree programs chosen by a candidate must be approved by the candidate’s Bishop.





Many programs in theology, most of them leading to graduate degrees, are available.  As noted above, any candidate who is able to pursue such a program is strongly encouraged to do so.  Within the Roman Catholic Church, Fordham University, Boston College, Notre Dame University, the University of San Francisco, among others, offer excellent programs in theology.  In association with other churches, Harvard Divinity School, Yale Divinity School, Washington Theological Union also offer excellent programs.


Other seminaries and theology schools are also available.  Following are short notes on four of them.

WHITHORN SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY   Whithorn offers course work through distance learning, and in residence at various locations and associate academic institutions. All students will be assigned an academic mentor who will advise and shepherd them through the applicable program or programs. Students are encouraged to maintain close contact with their mentors during enrollment.

A portfolio evaluation to determine the necessary course of study and required courses for a degree will be completed in consultation between the prospective student and the student’s academic mentor of the school.

Educational methodology is problem-based, and every student negotiates an individualized learning program based on prior education and experience.

Courses of study at Whithorn School of Theology are designed to reflect a fundamental commitment to systematic scholarship and free inquiry which are essential in preparing students for the priesthood Independent Sacramental Movement. The curriculum is designed to be at once thoroughly professional and rigorously academic, providing a balance between academic reflections and field experience. Faculty expectations in the various courses are clearly outlined at the beginning of the study and a flexible curriculum for the achievement of these expectations has been designed.

AGAPE SEMINARY (located in Florida).  Within the Old Catholic/Independent Catholic movement.  Offers training in theology and ministry.  Offers degree programs (bachelor, master, licentiate, doctor).  Stresses that these are not academic degrees but are strictly for church and religious purposes.  All courses are offered through distance learning.


GLOBAL MINISTRIES UNIVERSITY (located in California).  Within the Roman Catholic tradition.  Offers several degree programs (bachelor, master, doctor).  As in the case of Agape Seminary, these are not academic degrees.  All courses are distance learning.


LINDISFARNE SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY AND CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP (located in Ithaca, NY).  Broadly within the Protestant tradition, with Roman Catholic elements.  Lindisfarne is a modern, non-live-in monastic community under the direction of +Andrew Fitz-Gibbon and +Jane Hall Fitz-Gibbon.  It offers a thorough program of preparation for ordination that is quite similar to the program of the Celtic Christian Church.  This is also distance learning.





A large and growing number of online course exist, many of them free of charge, and very many of them offered by excellent schools and professors.  Following are notes on a few of them.


University of Notre Dame Open Courses.    Through its STEP (Satellite Theological Education Program) offering, part of its Institute for Church Life, Notre Dame offers a good number of online courses in theology. A Certificate of Catholic Theology can be obtained through this program.


Yale University Open Courses.    A good number of courses are offered online at no charge.  These are lectures that were recorded in the classroom, and they are available in video, audio and text transcript format.  Registration is not required, and no course credit is given.


HARVARD UNIVERSITY OPEN COURSES.    Through its Extension School, Harvard offers over 200 online classes.  These are either videos of taped classroom lectures, or scheduled live web-conference courses.  Credit can be earned under certain conditions.


OPEN COURSEWARE CONSORTIUM.    This is a grouping of over 250 universities and associated organizations worldwide offering thousands of courses form leading universities.  These courses are free of charge.   


edX.    This is an online initiative created by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  It offers numerous courses from excellent universities, among them MIT, Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley.  Some edX courses now offer ID verified Certificates of Achievement.


THE GREAT COURSES.    This is a series of hundreds of audio and video courses produced by top professors and experts in various fields.  They are relatively inexpensive, and are often on sale.







1.  Outline.     Following are the areas in which study is required:



Part I.   The Western Church


A.  Pre-Theology


     1.  Philosophy (a basic introduction)

     2.  Psychology (a basic introduction)

     3.  Comparative Religions


B.  Christian Theology


     1.  Introductory and General

     2.  Doctrinal Theology

          a.  God, the Trinity

          b.  Creation

          c.  Redemption

               1)  Christology

               2)  Redemption/Salvation

               3)  Mariology

          d.  Sanctification

               1)  Grace

               2)  Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope, Charity)

               3)  Ecclesiology

               4)  Sacraments

          e.  Consummation (Eschatology)

     3.  Moral Theology

          a.  Sin, Original Sin

          b.  Christian Moral Doctrine


C.  Sacred Scripture

D.  History of the Christian Church

E.  Liturgy

F.  Spiritual Life, Prayer, Spiritual Direction

G.  Pastoral Care, Counseling, Religious Education

H.  Homiletics


Part II.   The Eastern Church


Part III.   The Celtic Church



2.   List of Required and Recommended Books



The list of required books given below may well seem overwhelming at first sight.  It is therefore very important to keep two points in mind.


First, a seminary program for the priesthood in a sacramental church would take some three years and include over a thousand hours of classroom lectures.  The program below, while not pretending in any way to duplicate seminary training, must provide the substance of such training, without the lectures and the interaction between students and professors.


Second, the intent of any candidate's Bishop is to be as flexible as possible in the application of the program.  Schoolwork already done will count in the program if at all possible.  What is to be required of each individual candidate will depend on what has already been done and what still needs to be done.  As already noted, the transcripts requested in the Clergy Application will be particularly important in making this determination.


It should also be noted here that the division of the following material into "The Western Church," "The Eastern Church" and "The Celtic Church" is somewhat artificial.  In fact all of the material could easily have been included in a single series of sub-topics, with each Eastern or Celtic book placed within its proper topic.  However, the present division, in addition to bringing a greater degree of clarity to the organization of the material, accentuates the intent of the formation program.  Since we live in the Western world and the very large majority, if not the totality, of our priests will work within that world, the basic theological formation provided by this program is in the Western ambit.  Then, since we live our faith in the spirit of the ancient Celtic church and since this spirit is closer to the more mystical spirit of the Orthodox church than to the more rational outlook of the Western church, that basic formation is completed by a study of the theological outlook and especially the spirituality of the Orthodox church and by a study of the history and spirituality of the Celtic church.


All of the books indicated below are required unless otherwise noted.  In some cases a reference to a possible online course is given; many others are available.



Part I.    The Western Church



A. Pre-Theology



1.  Philosophy


A general introduction to philosophy, which is usually done in college, is required.  The following two books are examples; another may be substituted.


Jenny Teichman and Catherine C. Evans, PHILOSOPHY: A BEGINNER'S GUIDE, 2nd ed., Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1995.


C. E. M. Joad, GUIDE TO PHILOSOPHY, New York, NY: Dover, 1957 (originally 1936).  (More thorough than the first book, accentuating major themes in philosophy.)


Introduction to Philosophy: God, Knowledge and Consciousness:





A general introduction to psychology, which is also usually done in college, is required, as is a book on human sexuality.  The following books are examples; others may be substituted.


Ronald Kotesky, GENERAL PSYCHOLOGY FOR CHRISTIAN COUNSELORS, Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1983.




Introduction to Psychology:



3.  Comparative religions


Huston Smith, THE WORLD'S RELIGIONS, HarperSanFrancisco, 1991. (Revised and updated edition of his "The Religions of Man," 1958.)








The vast area of Christian theology can best be addressed by means of a compendium of theology or a book of systematic theology.  This will give a well integrated overview of the material.  This will then be completed by other works in those areas where a more developed treatment is needed.


Richard P. McBrien, CATHOLICISM, New Edition, New York, NY: HarperSan Francisco/HarperCollins, 1994.   (A thorough presentation of Christian doctrine by a priest who was for many years a professor of theology at Notre Dame University.  Includes a section on Christian moral doctrine.)


The following online course, "Foundations of Theology: Biblical and Historical," is recommended, but does not replace McBrien's book, Catholicism:





      a.   CREATION


Matthew Fox, ORIGINAL BLESSING:  A PRIMER IN CREATION SPIRITUALITY, Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Company, 1983.   (A study of creation which, while not ignoring sin, sees our world as good and uplifting.  Reflects the Celtic spirit on which it draws.)




The developments of modern science (concerning human origins, for example) raise serious questions for the Christian faith.  The following books address various aspects of this issue.


John Polkinghorne, SCIENCE AND THEOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTION, Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998.   (An excellent treatment by a particle physicist and Anglican priest and theologian.)


Ian G. Barbour, WHEN SCIENCE MEETS RELIGION, New York, NY: HarperSan Francisco, 2000.   (A treatment of the subject through the four views of their possible relationship: conflict, independence, dialogue, integration.   (Barbour is an eminent figure in the field of science and religion.)


John F. Haught, SCIENCE AND FAITH: A NEW INTRODUCTION, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 2012.   (Haught is Senior Fellow in Science and Religion at Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University.)


The following books in this area are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:


Jerry D. Korsmeyer, EVOLUTION AND EDEN: BALANCING ORIGINAL SIN AND CONTEMPORARY SCIENCE, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1998.   (Korsmeyer is a nuclear physicist and theologian.)


Dennis Edwards, THE GOD OF EVOLUTION: A TRINITARIAN THEOLOGY, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1999.   (Edwards is a Roman Catholic priest and a professor of theology in Australia.)


Arthur Peacocke, PATHS FROM SCIENCE TOWARDS GOD: THE END OF ALL OUR EXPLORING, Oxford, England: One World Publications, 2001.   (Peacocke is a biochemist and Anglican priest and theologian.)


      c.    PRIESTHOOD


Daniel Donovan, WHAT ARE THEY SAYING ABOUT THE MINISTERIAL PRIESTHOOD? New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1992.   (Describes different emphases on the priesthood as developed by several modern theologians.  Provides an excellent view of the complex nature of the priesthood.)


Avery Dulles, SJ, THE PRIESTLY OFFICE: A THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1997.    (A traditional treatment of the priesthood by a renowned theologian, now deceased.)


       d.    EUCHARIST


Alexander Schmemann, THE EUCHARIST: SACRAMENT OF THE KINGDOM, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1998.    (A beautiful and deeply spiritual treatment of the Eucharistic celebration and what it means in our daily life.  Schmemann is an outstanding Orthodox theologian.)




Rosemary Radford Ruether, WOMEN AND REDEMPTION: A THEOLOGICAL HISTORY, Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1999.    (The author is a respected theologian known for her work in feminist theology.)






THE HOLY BIBLE.   Recommended:  THE NEW OXFORD ANNOTATED BIBLE, WITH THE APOCRYPHAL/DEUTEROCANONICAL BOOKS (New Revised Standard Version), New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1991.








Margaret Nutting Ralph, AND GOD SAID WHAT? AN INTRODUCTION TO BIBLICAL LITERARY FORMS (Revised Edition), New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (Explains the literary forms used in the Bible [myth, parable, letter, etc.] and shows the importance of this in interpreting the Bible correctly.)


Lawrence Boadt, CSP, READING THE OLD TESTAMENT: AN INTRODUCTION, Second Edition, Revised and Updated by Richard Clifford and Daniel Harrington, SJ, New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (An up-to-date and comprehensive introduction.)


Pheme Perkins, READING THE NEW TESTAMENT: AN INTRODUCTION, Third Edition, Revised and Updated, New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (Includes material on the individual books of the New Testament, and recent material from archeology and social history that helps the reader better understand the New Testament.)


Available online courses, not required:

---Introduction to the Old Testament:

---Introduction to the New Testament:


Very highly RECOMMENDED:  Raymond E. Brown, SS, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW TESTAMENT, New York, NY: Doubleday, 1997.   (An excellent, scholarly and thorough introduction to all aspects of the New Testament and its books.  A very useful resource book.)





George T. Montague, SM, COMPANION GOD: A CROSS-CULTURAL COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, Revised Edition, New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (Up-to-date exegesis on Matthew, with the author's notes on his experiences in South Asia, where many cultural practices are similar to those of biblical times.)


Patrick J. Flanagan, THE GOSPEL OF MARK MADE EASY, New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (Places Mark's gospel in the context of its original audience, the early church in Rome.)


Mark Alan Powell, WHAT ARE THEY SAYING ABOUT LUKE? New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (A presentation of the most important current studies on Luke.)


Mark Alan Powell, WHAT ARE THEY SAYING ABOUT ACTS? New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (An overview of present-day scholarship on Acts.)


Anthony J. Kelly, CSSR, and Francis J. Moloney, SDB, EXPERIENCING GOD IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (A theological study of John, based on contemporary biblical scholarship.)


Stanley B. Marrow, SJ, PAUL, HIS LETTERS AND HIS THEOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTION TO PAUL'S EPISTLES, New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (Interprets Paul's theology by his letters and his life, against the background of his times.)






Following are three books that present a good treatment of the history of the Christian Church.  The candidate will choose ONE of them:


---John C. Dwyer, CHURCH HISTORY: TWENTY CENTURIES OF CATHOLIC CHRISTIANITY, Revised and Updated Edition, New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (Good, objective summary treatment.)

---David L. Edwards, CHRISTIANITY: THE FIRST TWO THOUSAND YEARS, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1997.   (Broad in scope, blends institutional history with theological developments.)

---Justo L. Gonzalez, THE STORY OF CHRISTIANITY: THE EARLY CHURCH TO THE PRESENT DAY, Peabody, MA: Prince Press, 1999 (two volumes in one, originally 1984 ("The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation") and 1985 ("The Reformation to the Present Day").   (Sheds light on the major cultural and theological currents shaping the church's outlook, while highlighting essential events, persons and ideas.)



The following books are all highly RECOMMENDED:


For a thorough study of the history of the Christian Church that is organized in a different way (by means of paradigms: Jewish apocalyptic paradigm, Hellenistic paradigm, etc.) and that is not afraid to examine the negative aspects of the church, see  Hans Kung, CHRISTIANITY: ESSENCE, HISTORY AND FUTURE, New York, NY: Continuum, 2001.


The faith of the Celtic Christian Church is that of the first seven ecumenical councils, which were those of the undivided Christian Church.  For a study of those seven councils, see  Leo Donald Davis, SJ, THE FIRT SEVEN ECUMENICAL COUNCILS (325-787): THEIR HISTORY AND THEOLOGY, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1983/1990.


The thought of St. Augustine had incalculable influence on the theology of the Christian Church, and for the Celtic Christian Church his thought is also important in understanding Pelagius (see below, Part III, The Celtic Church).  For a basic understanding of Augustine's thinking, see  T. Kermit Scott, AUGUSTINE: HIS THOUGHT IN CONTEXT, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1995.


For those interested in tracing how the church's doctrine evolved over the centuries, the following lengthy study is ideal:  Jaroslav Pelikan, THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION: A HISTORY OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF DOCTRINE, 5 volumes, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1971-1989.











Dennis C. Smolarski, SJ, SACRED MYSTERIES: SACRAMENTAL PRINCIPLES AND LITURGICAL PRACTICE, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1995.   (A practical and sound guide for the celebration of the sacraments, with notes on their historical and theological roots.)


Owen E. Cummings, LITURGICAL SNAPSHOTS: REFLECTIONS ON TH RICHNESS OF OUR WORSHIP TRADITION, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 2012.   (An in-depth approach to liturgical theology.)



The following books are RECOMMENDED:


---Edward J. Kilmartin, SJ, CHRISTIAN LITURGY I: THEOLOGY, Kansas City, MO: Sheed & Ward.

---Aidan Cavanagh, ON LITURGICAL THEOLOGY, New York, NY: Pueblo, 1984.

---Dom Gregory Dix, THE SHAPE OF THE LITURGY, London: A. C. Block, 1986.

---David Power, WORSHIP: CULTURE AND THEOLOGY, Washington, DC: Pastoral Press, 1990.

---Herbert Vorgrimler, SACRAMENTAL THEOLOGY, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992.

---Regis A. Duffy, REAL PRESENCE, WORSHIP, SACRAMENTS, AND COMMITMENT, San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1982.






The candidate must be familiar with the following:



THE ROMAN RITUAL (the Sacraments).









Henri J. M. Nouwen, REACHING OUT: THE THREE MOVEMENTS OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1975.   (The successive stages of our approach to God, as explained in simple terms by a modern master of the spiritual life.)


Henri J. M. Nouwen, WITH BURNING HEARTS: A MEDITATION ON THE EUCHARISTIC LIFE, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1994.   (A profound and beautiful reflection on the meaning of the Eucharist for ourselves and for our communities.)


M. Basil Pennington, OCSO, DAILY WE TOUCH HIM: PRACTICAL RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCES, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1977.   (Simple practical exercises to help us pray more deeply, by another modern master of the spiritual life.)


Thomas Keating, OCSO, OPEN MIND, OPEN HEART: THE CONTEMPLATIVE DIMENSION OF THE GOSPEL, New York, NY: Continuum, 1986/1992.   (An initiation into a deep loving relationship with God, by, once again, a modern spiritual master.)


Stephen Hough, THE BIBLE AS PRAYER: A HANDBOOK FOR LECTIO DIVINA, New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (Practical help for simple contemplative prayer based on texts of the Bible.)



The following books are RECOMMENDED:


Lawrence S. Cunningham and Keith J. Egan, CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY: THEMES FROM THE TRADITION, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1996.   (A concise overview of the ways in which Christians over the centuries have approached God in prayer and practice.)


Louis Dupre and James Wiseman, OSB, LIGHT FROM LIGHT: AN ANTHOLOGY OF CHRISTIAN MYSTICISM, Second Revised Edition, New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (Presents the key spiritual texts from the most important mystical writers in the Christian tradition, with introductions and bibliographies.)


THE ESSENTIAL WRITINGS OF CHRISTIAN MYSTICISM, Edited and with an Introduction by Bernard McGinn, New York, NY: Modern Library, 2006.   (The great writings of the Christian mystics, presented and introduced according to themes, by a recognized expert in the field.)






Jean Laplace, SJ, PREPARING FOR SPIRITUAL DIRECTION, Chicago, IL: Franciscan Herald Press, 1975.   (An excellent guide by an experienced and highly competent director.)


Chester P. Michael, AN INTRODUCTION TO SPIRITUAL DIRECTION: A PSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACH FOR DIRECTORS AND DIRECTEES, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 2004.   (A solid and thorough introduction.)


Kenneth Leech, SOUL FRIEND: SPIRITUAL DIRECTION IN THE MODERN WORLD, New Revised Edition, Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 2001.   (Presents spiritual direction as coming from a life of prayer and discipleship, as a ministry and not a profession, and as an important part of the ministry of a priest.)


Benedict J. Groeschel, SPIRITUAL PASSAGES: FOR THOSE WHO SEEK, THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT, New York, NY: Crossroad, 1990.   (Guides the reader through the interrelationships between one's spiritual life and one's psychological make-up.)


Kathleen Fischer, WOMEN AT THE WELL: FEMINIST PERSPECTIVES ON SPIRITUAL DIRECTION, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1988.   (An approach to spiritual direction that reflects women's experience and concerns.)



The following books are RECOMMENDED:


Wilfrid Stinissen, THE GIFT OF SPIRITUAL DIRECTION: ON SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE AND CARE OF THR SOUL, Liguori, MO: Liguori Publications, 1999.   (Excellent, well balanced and expressed in simple language.)


Tilden Edwards, SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR, SPIRITUAL COMPANION: GUIDE TO TENDING THE SOUL, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 2001.   (A very practical guide by the widely known founder of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Bethesda, MD.)


Janet K, Ruffing, RSM, SPIRITUAL DIRECTION: BEYOND THE BEGINNINGS, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 2000.   (A lucid treatment of advanced issues, themes and dynamics that arise in spiritual direction.)



Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 2000.   (Essays by experienced spiritual directors on working with abused persons, the poor, church drop-outs, gays and lesbians, the addicted, the dying.)







One unit of Clinical Pastoral Education  (CPE) is required, as noted above in Section III, Pastoral Formation.


Henri J. M. Nouwen, THE WOUNDED HEALER: MINISTRY IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY, Garden City, NY: Doubleday/Image, 1972.   (The author argues that ministers must be willing to go beyond their professional role and as wounded and suffering fellow human beings leave themselves open to those they serve, if they are to collaborate in Christ's ministry of healing.)


Henri J. M. Nouwen, CREATIVE MINISTRY, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971.   (In his or her several roles, the minister must, again, go beyond the professional role to "lay down his life for his friends" in order to mediate new life in Christ.)


Eugene Kennedy, ON BECOMING A COUNSELOR: A BASIC GUIDE FOR THE NON-PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR, New York, NY: Crossroad, 1977/1989.   (An excellent resource for the many counseling situations a priest encounters, by a married priest, professional psychologist and respected author.)


Thomas N. Hart, THE ART OF CHRITIAN LISTENING, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1980.   (The author, a marriage and family counselor, uses the insights of Scripture, contemporary spiritual theology and modern psychology to guide the Christian helper in various pastoral situations.)


Robert J. Wicks and Thomas E. Rodgerson, COMPANIONS IN HOPE: THE ART OF CHRISTIAN CARING, New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (Written by two counselors, this book provides practical information on interacting with others in a caring way, again in various pastoral situations.  This book and the previous one are complementary, and both are complementary to Kennedy's book, which is slightly more clinical in approach.)


Richard M. Gula, JUST MINISTRY: PROFESSIONAL ETHICS FOR PASTORAL MINISTERS, New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (A theological-ethical framework for reflecting on the moral responsibilities of the pastoral minister.)


BIOETHICS, Fourth Edition, Revised and Updated, Edited by Thomas A. Shannon, New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (Drawing on the major scholars in the field, presents an overview of the key issues facing health care professionals and ministers.)


Maureen Gallagher, THE ART OF CATECHESIS: WHAT YOU NEED TO BE, KNOW AND DO, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1998.   (Combines theology, liturgy, psychology and catechetics in showing catechists how to help others grow in faith.)


The following online course, "Introduction to Bioethics," is available but not required:


The following book, concerned with ministry in the church, is very highly RECOMMENDED:   Edward Schillebeeckx, THE CHURCH WITH A HUMAN FACE: A NEW AND EXPANDED THEOLOGY OF MINISTRY, New York, NY: Crossroad, 1988.   (A thorough and carefully researched study of ministry in the successive periods of the Christian Church's history.  Provides valuable insights for ministry today.)


The following three-volume study, concerned with pastoral counseling, is RECOMMENDED:   CLINICAL HANDBOOK OF PASTORAL COUNSELING (Volume 1: Expanded Edition), Edited by Robert J. Wicks and Richard D. Parsons, and for Volumes 1 and 3 Donald E. Capps, New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (Provides thorough and professional treatments of various aspects of pastoral counseling itself and of specific populations served by pastoral counselors, such as minorities, the devalued and abused, the addicted, the bereaved, the depressed, and so on.  The three volumes constitute an excellent resource in this broad area.)


For those who are, or intend to be, engaged in specific or specialized ministries, the following books are RECOMMENDED:

---Maxine Glaz and Jeanne Stevenson Moessner, eds.,  WOMEN IN TRAVAIL AND TRANSITION: A NEW PASTORAL APPROACH, Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1991.

---Rev. Steven Waterhouse, STRENGTH FOR HIS PEOPLE: A MINISTRY FOR FAMILIES OF THE MENTALLY ILL, Amarillo, TX: Westcliff Bible Church.



---Henry C. Simmons and Mark Peters, WITH GOD'S OLDEST FRIENDS: PASTORAL VISITING IN THE NURSING HOME, New York, NY: Paulist Press.

---Alan D. Wolfelt, DEATH AND GRIEF: A GUIDE FOR CLERGY, Muncie, IN: Accelerated Development, 1988.








Walter J. Burghardt, SJ, PREACHING: THE ART AND THE CRAFT, New York, NY: Paulist Press.   (Practical advice by a recognized master preacher.)




Part II,     The Eastern Church



As noted previously, the approach of the Eastern Church is generally more mystical than the basically more rational approach of the Western Church.  And the ancient Celtic Church has a great deal in common with the outlook of the Eastern Church.  Since the Celtic Christian Church lives its Christian life in the spirit of the ancient Celtic Church, it draws heavily on the theology and spirituality of the Orthodox Church.  It is important, therefore, for the priests of the Celtic Christian Church to have a good grounding in Eastern theology and spirituality.


Timothy Ware, THE ORTHODOX CHURCH, Revised Edition, New York, NY: Penguin, 1993. Part I, History; Part II, Faith and Worship.   (An excellent and clear introduction to the Orthodox Church, by a Westerner who is a bishop in the Orthodox Church under the name of Kallistos.)


George A. Maloney, SJ, GOLD, FRANKINCENSE, AND MYRRH: AN INTRODUCTION TO EASTERN CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY, New York, NY: Crossroad, 1997.   (The author is an American Jesuit priest, a member of the Eastern Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, and the author of many excellent books on the spiritual life.)


For those interested in pursuing their study of Orthodox theology and spirituality, the following books are highly RECOMMENDED.  All are by renowned contemporary Orthodox theologians, and all are published by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY:














The spirit of the ancient Celtic Church, which flourished for the greater part of the first Christian millennium in the northwestern part of Europe, is a simple and beautiful one, seeing God in nature and believing in the basic goodness of men and women and in personal relationships.  It is in this spirit, as noted above, that the Celtic Christian Church tries to live its Christian life.  This is a distinctive mark of the Church, and understanding that spirit is therefore essential for its ministers.  Since a great deal of material called "Celtic" is available today, a careful choice must be made.  The following books, all excellent, provide a basic introduction to the rich heritage of Celtic Christianity.


Timothy J. Joyce, OSB, CELTIC CHRISTIANITY: A SACRED TRADITION, A VISION OF HOPE, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1998.  (An excellent short presentation of the basic history of Celtic Christianity.)


Ian Bradley, THE CELTIC WAY, London, UK: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1993.  (A very readable short presentation of the essentials of Celtic Christian spirituality.)


Thomas O'Loughlin, JOURNEYS ON THE EDGES: A CELTIC TRADITION, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2000.   (A careful presentation of Celtic spirituality, based on the original sources.)


Philip Sheldrake, LIVING BETWEEN WORLDS: PLACE AND JOURNEY IN CELTIC SPIRITUALITY, Boston, MA: Cowley Publications, c. 1995.  (A discussion of place and journey, both important concepts to the Celtic mind, as keys to understanding Celtic spirituality.)


Esther de Waal, EVERY EARTHLY BLESSING: REDISCOVERING THE CELTIC TRADITION, Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publications, 1999  [Originally: A WORLD MADE WHOLE, 1991].   (A beautiful and sensitive presentation of the key aspects of Celtic spirituality.)


Esther de Waal, THE CELTIC WAY OF PRAYER, New York, NY: Doubleday, 1997.  (A simple presentation, based on wide scholarship, of the Celtic Christian approach to prayer.)


J. Philip Newell, LISTENING FOR THE HEARTBEAT OF GOD: A CELTIC SPIRITUALITY, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1997.  (An examination of Celtic spirituality through the medium of important figures in its history.)


J. Philip Newell, ONE FOOT IN EDEN: A CELTIC VIEW OF THE STAGES OF LIFE, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1999.  (A prayerful reflection on the stages of human life, from birth to death, seen through the prism of Celtic spirituality.)


J. Philip Newell, CHRIST OF THE CELTS: THE HEALING OF CREATION, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2008.   (How Christ was envisioned in the ancient Celtic tradition, and what this can mean for us today.)



For those desiring to pursue their study of Celtic Christian history and spirituality, the following books are highly RECOMMENDED:


1.    Sources


Oliver Davies and Fiona Bowie, CELTIC CHRITIAN SPIRITUALITY: AN ANTHOLOGY OF MEDIEVAL AND MODERN SOURCES, New York, NY: Continuum, 1995.  (Texts set in their own time and context.  Includes an excellent introduction to Celtic Christianity.)


CELTIC SPIRITUALITY, Translated and Introduced by Oliver Davies, The Classics of Western Spirituality, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1999.  (Varied texts described and placed in context.  Also includes an introduction to Celtic spirituality.)


Alexander Carmichael, CARMINA GADELICA: HYMNS AND INCANTATIONS COLLECTED IN THE HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS OF SCOTLAND IN THE LAST CENTURY, Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1992.  (Contains numerous prayers in the Celtic spirit, asking God's blessing on all aspects of life including the most mundane activities.)


THE CELTIC VISION, Selected and Edited by Esther de Wall from the Carmina Gadelica, Petersham, MA: St. Bede's Publications, 1988.  (Selections presented by themes, with an introduction to each theme.)


B. R. Rees, PELAGIUS: LIFE AND LETTERS, Two Volumes in One, Volume 2, THE LETTERS OF PELAGIUS AND HIS FOLLOWERS (1991), Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK, and Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 1998.  (Pelagius, active in the fifth century, though much maligned and condemned by the Church, has much worthwhile teaching in the Celtic spirit.)


John Scotus Eriugena, THE VOICE OF THE EAGLE: HOMILY ON THE PROLOGUE OF SAINT JOHN, Christopher Bamford, translator, with introduction and reflections, Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1990.  (Eriugena, born in the early ninth century, is an outstanding Celtic mystic and philosopher.)

THE IRISH PENITENTIALS, Edited by Ludwig Bieler, with an Appendix by D. A. Binchy, Dublin: The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1963/1975.   (The Irish Penitentials go beyond the conception of the Sacrament of Penance as inflicting punishment on a sinner for a crime committed, to seeing the Sacrament as medicinal and the penance as a means of helping the sinner heal from what led him or her to sin.  To grasp this meaning in the text itself, this book is to be read in conjunction with Chapter 3, "The Penitentials: The Human Dilemma," pages 48-67, in Thomas O'Loughlin, CELTIC THEOLOGY (see below, 2. Studies.)


2.    Studies


Peter Beresford Ellis, CELTIC INHERITANCE, London, UK: Constable, 1992.  (A scholarly study of Celtic Christianity and of its history in each of the Celtic lands of northwestern Europe.)


Thomas O'Loughlin, CELTIC THEOLOGY: HUMANITY, WORLD AND GOD IN EARLY IRISH WRITINGS, London, UK, and New York, NY: Continuum, 2000.   (A scholarly presentation of theology as seen through the lens of Celtic culture.)


B. R. Rees, PELAGIUS: LIFE AND LETTERS, Two Volumes in One, Volume 1, PELAGIUS: A RELUCTANT HERETIC (1988), Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK, and Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 1998.  (A judicious and scholarly presentation of Pelagius' life.)


James P. Mackey, ed., AN INTRODUCTION TO CELTIC CHRISTIANITY, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995.  (Chapters on various aspects of Celtic Christianity.  Includes M. Forthomme Nicholson, "Celtic Theology: Pelagius," on pages 386-413.)


Thomas Cahill, HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION, New York, NY: Doubleday/ Anchor, 1995.  (Both scholarly and written in a lighter vein, describes the work of the Irish monks and scribes in preserving the heritage of Western civilization during the Dark Ages.)



Revised February 2014.







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