The Pontifical North American College

About ICTE

“Come Away by Yourselves and Rest a While” (Mark 6:31)
Priestly Renewal in Rome

“I ask the Lord Jesus to confirm the priestly joy of those who have already ministered for some years. The joy which, without leaving their eyes, is also found on the shoulders of those who bear the burden of the ministry, those priests who, having experienced the labors of the apostolate, gather their strength and rearm themselves: ‘get a second wind,’ as the athletes say. Lord, preserve the depth, wisdom and maturity of the joy felt by these older priests. May they be able to pray with Nehemiah: ‘the joy of the Lord is my strength’ (cf. Neh 8:10).”
(Pope Francis, Chrism Mass Homily, April 17, 2014)


We invite you to come to Rome and walk in the footsteps of some 3,000 priests from all over the English-speaking world who have attended the Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the Pontifical North American College since its beginning in 1971. The Institute is an extraordinary opportunity for priests to study, pray and become zealous disciples of the Lord in a newer and deeper way.

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I. Structure
II. Background History
III. Goals
IV. Location
V. Costs

I. Structure

The following programs will be offered in 2016–2017 (click here for “Dates”):

  1. Spring 2016 semester: a single eleven-week sabbatical.
  2. Fall 2016: three modules (Module 1 – four weeks; Module 2 – three weeks; Module 3 – four weeks). Participants may choose to attend any combination of modules above.
  3. Spring 2017 semester: a single twelve-week sabbatical.

For the single sabbatical (Spring 2016, Spring 2017), subject areas covered include the following:

  • Sacred Scripture, particularly the Letters of Saint Paul
  • Eucharist and Holy Orders
  • Tours of the Roman Basilicas
  • Fundamental and Moral Theology
  • Biomedical ethics
  • Lectio Divina
  • Canon Law
  • Preaching
  • Women Doctors/Mystics of the Church
  • Culture and Unbelief

Download the brochure here.


MODULE 1: In Rome and in Greece: Following in the Footsteps of Saint Paul – September 5 through September 30 
(includes a five-day preached retreat and a seven-day pilgrimage to Greece).

The Letters of Saint Paul become more personal as we experience all that Paul did in the preaching of the Gospel. Whether it be rejection, difficulty, or success, Saint Paul comforts, strengthens and encourages us throughout our priestly lives. While in Greece we will retrace the steps of Saint Paul and the growth of the Church. While in Rome we will pray at his tomb and return home refreshed.

MODULE 2: In Rome and in the Holy Land: The Church’s Works of Mercy – October 3 through October 21 
(includes a seven-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land).

As part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, this module will highlight the Church’s social teaching as recently repeated in Pope Francis’ Evangelii gaudium. We will also undertake a seven-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land where we will not only share in the past while visiting the sites of our Lord but also share in the present while visiting the “works of mercy” supported by Catholic Relief Services.

MODULE 3: In Rome and in Siena: The Beauty of its Art and Architecture – October 24 through November 18 
(includes a five-day preached retreat and a five-day touring trip from Rome to Siena).

In addition to historical lectures and tours of the beauty of the Vatican and of Rome itself, we will be spending five days touring from Rome to Siena. Pope Francis reminds us that beauty has a pivotal role in the life of the human person. So too, as priests, do we need to consider its importance in the transmission of the Faith. This module will help us in that appreciation.

For the three month sabbatical and modules, all will include:

  • Airport pick up and drop off;
  • Full board and lodging within walking distance of St. Peter’s Basilica;
  • Orientation to Rome, Italy, the Pontifical North American College;
  • Mass at one of the Major Papal Basilicas;
  • A priest retreat (in the Fall Modules, the retreat in Modules 1 & 3 each will have a different focus).
  • The possibility for communal/individual prayer (Daily Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, Holy Hour, Sacrament of Penance, Spiritual Direction);
  • Classes taught by expert instructors from Rome and beyond (approximately 15 hours per week);
  • Wednesday General Audience with the Holy Father;
  • Some free travel weekends (Friday afternoon to Sunday evening);
  • Organized and optional visits to places of interest in and around Rome;
  • Closing Mass and banquet.

II. Background History

“‘The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus’, the saintly Curé of Ars would often say. This touching expression makes us reflect, first of all, with heartfelt gratitude on the immense gift, which priests represent, not only for the Church, but also for humanity itself. I think of all those priests who quietly present Christ’s words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world, striving to be one with the Lord in their thoughts and their will, their sentiments and their style of life. How can I not pay tribute to their apostolic labors, their tireless and hidden service, their universal charity? And how can I not praise the courageous fidelity of so many priests who, even amid difficulties and incomprehension, remain faithful to their vocation as ‘friends of Christ’, whom he has called by name, chosen and sent?”
(Pope Benedict XVI, June 16, 2009, in his Letter announcing the Year for Priests)


The Institute was founded in response to the call of the Second Vatican Council for the renewal of priests. Fourteen of the sixteen Conciliar documents can be quoted as indicating that continuing education and renewal are important for priests and their ministry. In addition, our program follows suggestions for the ongoing education and renewal of priests found especially in Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis (“I Will Give You Shepherds”) and in “The Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests,” issued by the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy. The Bishops of the United States of America have contributed to this development through their own “Program of Priestly Formation” and the “Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests.” Over the years, the success of our program has come from responding to the current needs of priests as they engage in ever changing opportunities and challenges; in this way, it has helped them in the renewal of their vocation and priesthood, revitalizing and equipping them for more effective pastoral ministry.


III. Goals

“Permanent formation is a requirement of the priest’s own faithfulness to his ministry, to his very being. It is love for Jesus Christ and fidelity to oneself. But it is also an act of love for the People of God, at whose service the priest is placed.”
(Saint John Paul II, Post Synodal Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, n. 70)


Ongoing Human Formation: The unique possibility for priests to spend time together in a strictly priestly environment fosters fraternity and the opportunity to explore personal and pastoral features of the priesthood in light of the renewal experience. Moreover, engaging in the cultural and artistic heritage of the Church and Rome, as well as through other moments for travel in Italy and beyond, contributes to a lifetime of appreciation for Europe’s rich Christian and cultural traditions.

Ongoing Spiritual Formation: All our programs provide opportunities for priests to make their annual retreat. There are moments offered for coming together in prayer in the daily celebration of the Eucharist and Liturgy of the Hours, as well as participating in the Holy Hour, Rosary, and Sacrament of Reconciliation. Spiritual Direction is available to each individual. Participants enjoy also the privilege of concelebrating liturgies at the Basilica of Saint Peter, other Papal Basilicas and various ancient churches. For many priests, the possibility of attending Papal liturgies and other spiritual events at the Vatican and in Rome is among the highlights of our program. In the Spring semester, a nine-day semester break permits personal travel or the option of a study pilgrimage to the Holy Land or other fascinating places connected to Sacred Scripture. In the Spring semester, participants benefit from the option of praying at the Station Churches during Lent and remaining in Rome during Holy Week.

Ongoing Intellectual Formation: Presenters for the Institute are top-notch Roman-based university professors, as well as from the USA and Europe, whose expertise has brought them to the “universal classroom” of Rome. The professors typically enjoy working with Institute priests because of the give-and-take with experienced pastors and those active in the various ministries of the Church.

Ongoing Pastoral Formation: The priests of the Institute are diocesan and religious priests who come principally from the United States, but other English-speaking countries, too, which helps each to understand the greater horizon and local circumstances of the worldwide Church in its various places. In this, there is a significant new level of formation in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Most evenings and weekends are free, which offers the opportunity to be exposed to a wide range of pastoral and cultural activities.


IV. Location

The Institute for Continuing Theological Education is housed in its own quarters, on the campus of the Pontifical North American College on the Janiculum Hill, overlooking the Vatican and much of Rome. Completely renovated in 2010, Casa O’Toole, has its own chapel, classroom, lounge and dining room.

Each private room is fully furnished with a bathroom and individually controlled heat and air conditioning. Priests have use of the College’s library, exercise facilities, and money-exchange services.


V. Costs

SPRING 2016  (11 WEEK SESSION) $11,000
Optional Holy Land Pilgrimage during Holy Week & Easter $3,400
FALL 2016 – MODULE 1 (4 wks) $6,700
FALL 2016– MODULE 2 (3 wks) $5,400
FALL 2016 – MODULE 3 (4 wks) $5,500
SPRING 2017  (12 WEEK SESSION) $11,750
Optional Holy Land Pilgrimage $3,400

For any other inquiry, please contact the ICTE Office at the North American College (

Sullivan dec 2014






Program Director:
Rev. James M. Sullivan, O.P.

Office: (39 06) 6849-34100
Room: (39 06) 6849-34111
Cell: (39) 366-865-3126

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  1. […] Vatican from his room! For the next three months he will be on sabbatical. Father will be attending The Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the Pontifical North American College and he will be there until […]