Propaedeutic Intellectual Formation

Propaedeutic Intellectual Formation


The goal of intellectual life in the propaedeutic stage is a deepening understanding of the mysteries of faith through a growing familiarity with Christian doctrine.

During the propaedeutic stage, the seminarian ought to achieve broad familiarity with the Scriptures, the teachings of the Church (especially as articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church), Catholic anthropology, and the documents of the Second Vatican Council, animated by an evident desire to delve more deeply into such learning, rooted in those habits of study and intellectual skills necessary to progress further in truth.


  • To gain an initial understanding of Christian doctrine and anthropology.
  • To develop basic habits of study.
  • To exhibit signs of intellectual curiosity.
  • To develop a love of learning.
  • To address aspects missing in one’s general education.


The program for intellectual formation during the propaedeutic stage includes four courses for credit offered through the University of Dallas. These courses are taught at the seminary. Generally speaking, propaedeutic seminarians take two three-credit courses each semester:

Fall Semester
Catholicism I: Profession of Faith and Celebration of the Christian Mystery
Literary Tradition I

Spring Semester
Catholicism II: Life in Christ and Christian Prayer
Literary Tradition II

The “Catholicism” courses enable the seminarians to increase their understanding of Christian doctrine and anthropology by focusing chiefly on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The “Literary Tradition” courses enable the seminarians to acquaint themselves with great works in the Western tradition and to improve their reading and writing abilities, thus preparing them for the liberal and philosophical education they will undertake during the discipleship stage. All four courses, moreover, aim to habituate the seminarian in a life of study and to nourish their love of learning.

In addition, Propaedeutic seminarians have scheduled periods of focused reading and study built into their daily schedules. As much as possible, these periods will be “distraction-free,” so that the seminarians can develop genuine habits of study.

Scripture discussion groups meet regularly throughout the semester with a view to familiarizing Propaedeutic seminarians with the Scriptures as a whole, the different genres of writings in the Bible, and the trajectory of salvation history as recounted in both the Old and New Testaments.