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You can keep the house. That’s the message from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, which is offering a degree for people who feel called to serve God in new ways but can’t turn their lives upside down to study.

The Aquinas@Home program is a spin-off of a successful degree program the school offers in Oklahoma City, which combines online study with occasional weekends of face-to-face study. The last time Oklahoma City and Aquinas Institute sought applications, they came from as far away as Florida and New York City!

“That is when we knew we were onto something,” said Jared Ainsworth-Bryson, admissions director.

Here is how Aquinas@Home will work: The first group of students—limited to about 25—will begin their studies in Fall 2007. They will spend eight to 10 weeks on each course. They will discuss their readings online with faculty and other students. Once during each course, they’ll gather in St. Louis for a weekend, where they will study and pray together.

“This is more than an academic pursuit,” said Sr. Mary Kay Oosdyke, O.P., academic dean. “We will prepare these students for work in ministry, and fundamental to their success will be the development of a strong spiritual and ministerial identity.”

Students also will complete internships in ministry at locations close to their homes.

The first students in the program will graduate in spring of 2011. They will be qualified for positions such as campus minister, hospital chaplain, administrator of a diocesan agency or ministry, director of a parish without a resident priest or a parish pastoral associate.

“We have heard from so many people who seek a greater purpose in life but because of family and career commitments, they can’t stop everything to make the transition,” said Fr. Charles Bouchard, O.P., president of Aquinas Institute. “This degree format makes it possible.”

Aquinas Institute of Theology is a Roman Catholic graduate school affiliated with Saint Louis University. Priesthood candidates study alongside vowed religious women and men and lay students preparing for careers in the Church, or seeking simply to better understand their faith lives.

To find out more about Aquinas@Home, go to (so named because you can!) 

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