Field Education and Pastoral Formation


Field education serves as an integral complement to the theological and pastoral education of ministry students, as well as to their spiritual formation and vocational preparation.  In concert with these other dimensions of the Master of Divinity Program at the University of Notre Dame, field education provides those preparing for ecclesial ministry opportunities for the appropriation of ministerial skills, for the integration of theological studies and ministerial experience through theological reflection, and for the continued development of their ministerial identities. To make such opportunities possible, field education consists of the following components:

  • weekly service at a ministerial site over the course of an academic year (6 to 8 hours per week, including preparation, travel, and supervision);
  • weekly seminars utilizing case study method and facilitated conversation about contemporary theological and ministerial topics;
  • regular individual supervision with an approved and experienced authority at the ministry placement site (at least 30 minutes per week, or 60 minutes every two weeks).

Within the context of their field education seminars, ministry students develop their facility with theological reflection upon their ministerial experiences.  The primary learning dynamic for the field education seminar is dialogical and includes conversation about assigned texts and critical incidents in ministry as reported by participants using the prescribed case study method for the seminar. As in the process of ministry placement selection, as well as in their supervisory sessions, students in the field education seminar engage in reflection and conversation centered around three distinct themes relative to the general goals for each year of field education.

Field Education I: Images & Models of Ministry I and II

During their first year of field education, students examine various images and models of ministry and learn the rudiments of the case study method so as to begin to engage in formalized theological reflection on their ministry experiences.  In the field education seminar and in ministry placements allowing for significant one-on-one service, students appraise the ministerial skills they already possess, deepen their understanding of the goals of professional education for ministry, and develop a common theological and ministerial language.

Field Education II: Articulating Faith I and II

The goal of the second year of field education is facility in articulating the Christian faith, particularly as understood in Roman Catholic tradition, and in fostering the development of faith with others.  In the Field Education seminar, students explore the nature and role of evangelization and catechesis in ministry and continue to integrate theory and praxis toward effective pastoral ministry.

Leadership and Authority

During the third year of field education, students explore issues of leadership, power, and authority in the role of the public minister. The goal is to complement the growth in pastoral skills already attained in the first two years with the acquisition of proficiency in skills for collaborative leadership in the contemporary Church.  In the sixth semester of field education, there is no field education seminar.  However, students continue to work at their field education sites and meet with their ministry supervisors.


If you have questions about our MDiv program, please contact the Administrative Coordinator for MDiv Program at 574-631-4256.