In Their Own Words
As a School of Theology, Immaculate Conception Seminary provides a theological and philosophical foundation for men and women pursuing undergraduate and graduate studies and preparing for ministries among the people of God. We also offer varied opportunities for continuing theological education.
Our students and alumni come from all walks of life, with backgrounds and vocations as wonderfully rich and diverse as the Church itself. Here's what some of them had to say about how the School of Theology helped them to grow in their faith and better enabled them to share the faith with others at home, in the workplace, and in their parishes and ministries.
Amy Bishop, Master of Arts in Theology
"Studying at ICSST has been a very fruitful experience for me. Taking classes and engaging with the community here has definitely drawn me closer to the Lord and inspired me to continue seeking His heart through His Word and Revelation. I started this program with a background in mathematics and a love for the Church and am graduating in May with an even greater love for the Church and a zeal to share the gifts that He has given me!
A favorite memory of mine is taking a class on the Holy Trinity with Msgr. Guarino and meeting with my fellow classmates over coffee afterwards to discuss the beautiful insights that were shared in class! True education is a journey and being able to share that journey with others is very important. I am very, very grateful for all that I've learned during my time here at ICSST. I trust that the Lord will use every minute of my education to help fulfill my mission on this earth and work with the Church to lead souls closer to Christ.
I have been able to work on my master's degree while working part-time for a pro-life, non-profit organization; both tasks have the same mission: to promote the sanctity of human life. Being able to work towards one goal has been key to working on integration in my life."
Anna Capizzi, Master of Arts in Theology
Special Projects Editor, Catholic News Service
"When I began my studies at ICSST, I never imagined that in two years, I’d be working for Catholic News Service – much less researching and writing my thesis at the same time! CNS is the official news agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and an international wire service, partnering and collaborating with diocesan newspapers, communications offices, Catholic media outlets and publications.
ICSST gave me the theological training needed to step into my role at CNS as special projects editor. I edit the columns for style and theological accuracy and design and assign the weekly catechetical package. I love that my work has a pastoral nature, that what I create and edit has an impact on the intellectual and spiritual lives of our readers. The Catholic press keeps Catholics informed of current events and how the faith applies to their lives today, and it is exciting and humbling to be a part of that.
I’m grateful for my time at ICSST. As the graduate assistant, I got the best of both worlds. I studied full-time while working with the wonderful faculty and staff. Researching and writing my M.A. thesis, “Accompaniment and a Christocentric Anthropology of the Family,” was the highlight of my studies, and the guidance and feedback of my thesis director, Dr. Justin Anderson, was invaluable. Another memorable moment was my presentation at the Petersheim Academic Exposition, where I shared some of my research. Members of the ICSST and Seton Hall community came ready with questions and personal anecdotes on the topic – the family – and their comments helped me clarify my points and affirmed the value of my research. If I can encourage any current or future M.A. students of ICSST: Go for the research option – it’s worth it!"
David Hajduk, Master of Arts in Theology
Author and Adjunct Professor of Moral Theology, Immaculate Conception Seminary
"At Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology, I found much more than a top notch academic environment in which I could explore theological interests and establish a solid foundation for my work as a theology teacher and pastoral minster. I also found a nurturing and encouraging community, a place where I felt like a valuable contributor, a unique individual with something to share. I was much more than a student to the faculty and staff. At ICSST I found friends and not just mentors, and they have remained such even to this day. They always took care to ask about my family and got excited about key moments in my life, like the birth of my children. Again, I found friends at ICSST.
As a student, I especially appreciated how I could tailor my courses and research to my particular interests and vocational goals. Each teacher brought her or his own style and personality to the course taught. Not infrequently, I would meet a teacher for a coffee or a meal to 'bounce' ideas and share insights derived from the class. This was something that the faculty clearly reveled in and were eager to encourage! I pursued doctoral studies at the urging of various teachers and administrators, and they were of assistance to me every step of the way: from writing recommendations, to offering their expertise towards my research, to praying for me throughout the process. In fact, one of my former teachers/deans came to support me at my defense and he was in 'real time' contact with others at ICSST who were praying and awaiting the news of my passing. I felt that ICSST was a family who encouraged and supported me, as well as celebrated with me."
Kimberly Mailley, Master of Arts in Theology
Assistant Director, Center for Diaconal Formation
"As a graduate of a large state university with a bachelor’s degree in business management, I would never have dreamed that 28 years later I would be celebrating the completion of a master’s degree in pastoral ministry from a school of theology at a major Catholic university. My journey began 11 years ago with a little push from my pastor. Working in youth ministry at the time, he encouraged me to enroll for a graduate Certificate in Youth Ministry at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology (ICSST). Feeling hesitant, I enrolled for the program that required attending classes two weekends per semester. Surely, I could manage that! If anyone knows about studying for a certificate at ICSST, you would know that enrolling in a certificate program at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology almost surely guarantees further studies toward a degree program. After two years of study, I completed my certificate but, having four young children, decided that I would postpone my further studies toward a master’s degree.
Fast forward to 2013! I found myself in a new position working for the Center for Diaconal Formation at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology. Surely God’s divine providence put me there, for after only a few months I was enrolling for a degree in pastoral ministry. After four more years, enrolling for one course each semester, I joyfully earned my degree. My journey over the last 11 years has not only brought me to a path of working with candidates who are studying for the permanent diaconate and providing spiritual nourishment for their wives, but also has given me the opportunity to develop a rich understanding of my Catholic faith and a desire to continue to enrich my own spiritual formation. It has been an incredible experience and one of which I will always be proud."
Iris Rhein, Master of Arts in Theology
Director of Religious Education, Church of the Assumption
"Beginning my master's in theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary has been an enriching experience. One of the things I've enjoyed the most in my classes at ICS is the classroom experience. Professors encourage us to ask questions and engage with the content. The academic rigor is there but more importantly, so is the faith. I find that the discussions in class often spill out of the classroom and into my prayer life. It is so refreshing to have a solid Catholic academic environment in which to pursue my master's."