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Diocese > Vocations > Lay Ecclesial Ministry > Pastoral Ministry

 Certificate in Pastoral Ministry

cpm_factsheet_cover.jpgThe Certificate in Pastoral Ministry Program is a joint venture of Seton Hill University and the Diocese of Greensburg. The certificate program is designed to meet the educational and formational needs of adults who are committed to the mission of Christ within the Roman Catholic Church.

These men and women serve under the leadership of the diocesan bishop as successor of the Apostles and in communion with the Holy Father, the bishop of Rome. They are entrusted by pastors with leadership responsibility in a wide variety of ministries, such as pastoral care, social ministry, youth ministry, catechetics, Catholic schools, and music ministry.

Some serve beyond parish settings in hospice care, nursing home and hospital care, campus ministry and retreat centers. It is the aim of the certificate program that these persons are equipped to undertake their ministerial responsibilities with theological competence, pastoral sensitivity and spiritual depth.

Certificate recipients serve as lay ecclesial ministers and as ordained permanent deacons.

A man interested in the diocesan permanent diaconate formation program is expected to complete all of the requirements of the pastoral certificate program.

Catechetical leaders are among those identified by the U.S. Catholic bishops as "lay ecclesial ministers." The certificate program is one way our catechetical leaders are able to acquire the education and formation needed to serve faithfully and effectively in this vital ministry.​


Admission to program

The Certificate in Pastoral Ministry is a partnership between the Diocese of Greensburg and Seton Hill University. Therefore, prospective students must follow the application process particular to each institution. Admission to the certificate program is contingent upon acceptance by Seton Hill and sponsorship by the Diocese of Greensburg or another church judicatory.

If the applicant is not a parishioner in the Diocese of Greensburg, he or she must contact the diocesan Office for Lay Ecclesial Ministry for information about obtaining a letter of sponsorship from a legitimate church judicatory.

Admission to the university
An applicant must meet all of the academic standards that are set forth by the university and participate in an interview with the program director prior to admission into the certificate program. An applicant must submit to the university the following documents:

  • A completed Seton Hill University application form.
  • An official copy of a high school transcript or GED.
  • Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended.
  • A statement of interest in the pastoral ministry program (two-page limit).

To learn more about admission to the university, contact the O​ffice of Graduate and Adult Studies at 724-838-4280, or email​.


Students in the Certificate in Pastoral Ministry program are assessed one-half of the university's tuition rate. Students who are sponsored by the Diocese of Greensburg will have one-half of the remaining tuition paid for by the diocese. Students who complete the certificate program are permitted to complete their baccalaureate degree in religious studies/theology at the same reduced tuition rate and without additional application fees.


For more information about current tuition rates and diocesan financial assistance, contact the diocesan Office for Lay Ecclesial Ministry​ at 724-837-0901.


A prospective student must contact the diocesan Office for Lay Ecclesial Ministry to request an application for diocesan sponsorship. The applicant must also submit the following documents:

After our diocesan office receives all application materials, the applicant will be contacted to schedule an interview with the diocesan director.

If an applicant is not a parishioner in the Diocese of Greensburg, he or she needs to contact the diocesan Office for Lay Ecclesial Ministr​y at 724-837-0901.

 Areas of Formation for Ministry

Ministerial preparation for either ordained ministry or lay ecclesial ministry involves the integration of four areas of formation: the human, the spiritual, the intellectual, and the pastoral. The Certificate in Pastoral Ministry program is patterned on this type of preparation, with particular attention given to the life circumstances of the lay person. By actively promoting the development of the well-formed, well-informed minister, the program sets the one who is called by God in and through the church to be a leader among disciples on a course of lifelong formation.


The actual practice of ministry in real situations, combined with mentored reflection on those experiences, enable students to cultivate the knowledge, attitudes and skills needed for effective ministry. Students develop and enact a plan for learning and participate in an evaluative process. Throughout the one-semester placement, attention is given to increasing awareness of pastoral and professional ethics and to deepening one's self-identity as a person called to minister publicly in the name of the church.


​​The source and heart of ministry is the personal experience of God's gracious gift of love in Christ and through his Spirit. As an essential component of a ministry formation program, spiritual formation helps students cultivate certain practices, attitudes and dispositions that will help them discern a call to public ministry and sustain them in their lives and service to the church.

Days of recollections, evenings of reflection and retreats offer students opportunities to deepen their attention to the word of God and to experience various forms of prayer and spiritual practices found within the tradition of the Catholic Church. The practice of faith sharing and theological reflection help students to heighten their awareness of the movement of God in their lives and ministry. Assistance to identify qualified spiritual directors is also provided.​


​The capacity for critical self-awareness of and self-reflection about one's human qualities, character, gifts, limitations and physical and psychological health is critical to the development of a mature and effective minister. Students have formal and informal opportunities to deepen their understanding of what it means to be in a relationship with one's self, with God and with others for the sake of personal growth and the ability to offer ministerial service.​​


For Catholics, thinking is part of believing. Rooted in the belief that God has become fully human in Jesus Christ, the Catholic intellectual tradition upholds the mutual illumination of faith, knowledge and reason. St. Anselm's well known definition of theology as "faith seeking understanding" captures the notion that faith leads to intellectual inquiry and this search leads to ultimate questions and invites faith responses.

The program of academic studies involves 12 courses for 33 undergraduate credits. The curriculum reflects attention to the core elements that constitute Catholic theology. Descriptions of the following courses may be found in the Seton Hill University course catalog.

  • Christian Scriptures
  • Christology
  • Ecclesiology
  • Field Experience
  • Hebrew Scriptures
  • Introduction to Pastoral Ministry
  • Liturgy and Sacraments
  • Ministry and Spirituality
  • Moral Theology
  • Special Topics in Ministry I and II
  • The Helping Relationship