Summer School

Since 1984, the Oratory, through Saint Philip’s Seminary which it founded and runs, has been providing philosophical and theological education for students preparing for the Catholic priesthood.  Although the seminary helped fill an educational gap for seminarians, laypeople were requesting both high quality catechetical instruction and a continuing intellectual formation in their Catholic faith.  In 1989, the Oratory Theology Summer School was instituted to help satisfy that desire.

Each year, the first week of the Summer School is a systematic introduction to The Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The five-day course has three lectures per day that provide a solid foundation for navigating the Catechism on one’s own, either for personal reading or for use in home schooling, RCIA courses, or Catholic schools.  Although the course has been of great use to teachers and catechists, everyday Catholics find it accessible and intellectually nourishing.  Even high school students have taken the course with their families.

The second week of the Summer School changes from year to year, allowing students to come back for new material each year.  It is recommended that students take the first session before taking the second but not required.

The second week in 2020 will be The First Four Ecumenical Councils.  We will examine the Church as it moves from persecution to civil recognition, allowing it to gather for ecumenical councils to define the Church’s teaching, especially about Christ himself, in response to heresies that had arisen.  In examining this period, from roughly 325 to 451, we will look not only at the theological debates at the councils themselves (although this will form the core of the session) but also some of the great saints of the period and the art and architecture it produced.

The first week will be July 6-10, and the second July 13-17.  In order to accommodate people from across the continent, classes will be at 11:00 a.m. EST, 1:15 p.m. EST, and 3:15 EST.  

Inspired by the restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic (some good comes out of viruses), the course will be available both in person (according to the numbers permitted and in accord with rules for distancing) and online through Zoom. Those enrolled in the course can attend live through Zoom, and recordings will be made available for one week after the completion of the course to allow those whose schedules won’t allow them to attend live to watch the classes. For those who wish to attend the classes in person at the Oratory, please send your request to [email protected] Residence in the Seminary, however, will not be available this year, nor will lunches be provided for those attending in person. The fee for the course is $150 per week.

Registrations are now open on Eventbrite.

Previous topics for the Second Session

  • 1991: Prayer and Spirituality
  • 1992: Lumen Gentium
  • 1993: Scripture and its Interpretation
  • 1994: Introduction to the Catechism (same as first week)
  • 1995: The Sacraments of Marriage and Holy Orders
  • 1996: The Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Response
  • 1997: The Church in the Nineteenth Century
  • 1998: The First Four Ecumenical Councils
  • 1999: The 13th Century
  • 2000: Catholic Controversies
  • 2001: John Henry Cardinal Newman
  • 2002: No summer school because of World Youth Day
  • 2003: The Doctors of the Church
  • 2004: The Oratory of Saint Philip Neri
  • 2005: The Papacy
  • 2006: The Church in the first half of the Twentieth Century
  • 2007: The Eucharist — Sacramentum Caritatis
  • 2008: Saint Paul the Apostle
  • 2009: Popes, Saints, and Councils of the Early Renaissance
  • 2010: John Henry Cardinal Newman
  • 2011: The Church in the Catacombs
  • 2012: From Enlightenment to Revolution — The Church in the 18th Century
  • 2013:  Essential Catholic Reading
  • 2014: The Life of Prayer
  • 2015: St Philip — The Early Years
  • 2016: St Augustine and His Influence
  • 2017: The Church and Non-Believers
  • 2018: The Church in the Apostolic Age
  • 2019: John Henry Cardinal Newman
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