About the Program
The Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) is one of the largest religious orders in the Catholic Church. It was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius Loyola, a Basque nobleman and soldier. Today there are over 20,000 Jesuits serving the Church in 112 nations on six continents. First Studies is the stage of Jesuit formation that follows the two-year novitiate. During this time of study and preparation for ordination to the Catholic priesthood, the Jesuit is called a scholastic. There are two other First Studies programs in the United States: Bellarmine Hall at St. Louis University and Loyola University of Chicago.
First Studies at Fordham integrates philosophical and theological studies with the mission of the Society of Jesus today, its preferential option for the poor, and its promotion of justice in the service of the faith--in short, Jesuit ministerial formation. The typical first studies plan lasts for three years, which includes the equivalent of one year of theology.
Companions of Jesus
The theological underpinning of the First Studies Program is our affirmation in faith that we want to be companions of Jesus Christ. Hence we take our key from the Incarnation. Jesus is the Word of God who has come in flesh, within history, in deep solidarity with the human race, to unite us to our God. Our formational task is to develop a wisdom-filled charity like that of Christ through intellectually rigorous studies in philosophy and theology, through apostolic work and reflection, and through shared life in Jesuit community.
At the core of the Ciszek Hall program is constant attention to human and spiritual growth. The Eucharist is at the center of our community and personal prayer life. The community gathers to pray the Liturgy of the Hours on Sunday evenings. The program also includes a Lenten Penance Service and a vow renovation retreat. Also, every community member is engaged in ongoing spiritual direction.
The academic component of the program typically offers a three-year integrated sequence of philosophy and theology courses. The courses are offered in the graduate division of Fordham University's departments of philosophy, theology and the School of Religion and Religious Education. The philosophy component customarily leads to the M.A.P.R. degree and provides academic preperation for a personal philosophical synthesis and the De Universa Philosophia exam. The theology component initiates the Jesuit scholastic into the major disciplines of theology, anticipating later academic work in the field such as the Master of Divinity degree. The Program Director is Fr. Tom Krettek, S.J.
Jesuit Scholastics at Ciszek Hall spend eight hours each week in apostolic work. The community's apostolic commitments are mostly in the Belmont/East Tremont area of the Bronx, the neighborhood of lower-income and immigrant families where Ciszek Hall is located. Other sites include Cristo Rey High School New York and St. Ignatius Nativity School.
Religious Life in Community
With the exception of the Eucharist, the community's most significant gather is dinner. Every Thursday is community night, which includes a meeting and haustus. The format of our meetings is usually conversational: among the whole community, in conversation groups, with an invited speaker. Each semester the community hosts a Saturday day-long workshop on a topic related to the vows or Jesuit spirituality. Also, the community celebrates Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, and Easter Sunday together.