Discipleship Intellectual Formation

Discipleship Intellectual Formation


The goal of intellectual formation at Holy Trinity Seminary is that the seminarian more and more learn, personally appropriate, and become able to communicate the Church’s intellectual tradition, grounded in the relationship that exists between the human spirit and truth, culminating in the Gospel, with a view to evangelizing effectively within contemporary society, thereby furthering the salvific mission of the Church.

In the intellectual dimension of priestly formation, living virtuously means learning and loving the intellectual Tradition of the Church and developing the arts and habits so as to be able to teach and preach it clearly, coherently, and persuasively.


  • To develop the studiousness necessary for a student and lifelong learner.
  • To acquire the docility needed to enlarge one’s learning.
  • To acquire the arts advantageous for one’s future ministry as a clear, coherent, and persuasive teacher and a preacher.
  • To become grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition with regard to its literary, poetic, artistic, historical, and liturgical dimensions.
  • To develop a philosophic habit of mind whose attributes include freedom, equitableness, calmness, and moderation.
  • To integrate faith and reason as “a pair of wings, as it were, by which the human spirit is borne toward the contemplation of truth.”
  • To grow in familiarity with the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Common Doctor of the Church.


The Program for Priestly Formation articulates a double focus of study in the discipleship stage program of intellectual formation, namely, the study of the liberal arts and the study of philosophy. Holy Trinity Seminary collaborates with the University of Dallas, a Catholic liberal arts university. Seminarians attend academic classes with the men and women whom they will serve as priests in the future. With a comprehensive undergraduate core curriculum based on a classical approach to the Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of Dallas requires the study of literature, history, a modern or classical language, economics, natural science, mathematics, fine arts, philosophy, and theology, much of which is rooted in primary texts in the Western tradition. This challenging curriculum offers seminarians the opportunity to think intelligently and to speak articulately about the challenges offered by utilitarianism, relativism, materialism, and other misleading ideologies in contemporary society.

Discipleship Stage program. The University of Dallas has established an interdisciplinary curriculum of study for discipleship stage seminarians pursuing a bachelor’s degree to fulfill the goals set forth in the PPF. All seminarians pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Dallas major in Philosphy & Letters, and those who successfully complete this course of study earn a B.A. in Philosophy & Letters.

Pre-theology program. Seminarians who have completed their undergraduate degrees at other universities, no matter their disciplines, but who lacking the 30 credit hours in philosophy and 12 credit hours required prior to theological studies, are enrolled in the Pre-Theology Program at the University of Dallas. This is a four-semester, 48-hour program, the successful completion of which results in earning a Certificate of Pre-Theologically Studies. In addition to the philosophy and theology requirements, this program also includes 6 credit hours of language studies.