La Salle University in Philadelphia, PA celebrated the 60th anniversary of its graduate program in Theology and Ministry with a Mass of Thanksgiving. The Most Reverend John M. Smith, Bishop of Trenton, celebrated the June 27th Mass, during which he was honored for his longstanding commitment to Catholic schools, religious education, and adult faith formation.
Rev. Mr. Christopher Picollo, transitional deacon, Diocese of Trenton; Rev. Frank Berna, O.F.M., director of La Salle’s Graduate Program in Theology and Ministry; Most Rev. John Smith, Bishop of Trenton; Br. Michael McGinniss, F.S.C., President, La Salle University; and Br. Charles Gresh, F.S.C., Director, Major Gifts, La Salle University.
The program was established in 1950 as the Institute of Advanced Studies in Religion to commemorate the third centennial of the birth of St. John Baptist de La Salle. Its goal was to prepare Brothers for teaching religion at the secondary and collegiate levels. The program evolved to enroll clergy, other religious orders, and lay personnel. It is believed to be the first non-seminary master’s degree in theology offered to laymen in the Philadelphia area.
Approximately 1,400 degrees have been conferred to date. About 80 students are currently pursuing courses for the Theology and Ministry degree. Most are middle-aged adult laymen preparing for work in parish religious education, diocesan offices, other pastoral ministries, as well as high school and college teaching.