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.


I. Structure

The following programs will be offered in 2015–2016 (click here for “Dates”):

  1. Fall 2015 semester: three modules (Module 1 – four weeks; Module 2 – three weeks; Module 3 – four weeks). Participants may opt for one Module or a maximum of any two Modules.
  1. Spring 2016 semester: a single three month sabbatical.

For the single three month sabbatical (Spring 2016), 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

For the module offering (Fall 2015), three modules are proposed: (Module 1 – four weeks; Module 2 – three weeks; Module 3 – four weeks). Priests may opt for any single module (hence, a four or three week stay) or any two modules (hence, a seven or eight week stay). In Modules 1 & 3, after a short orientation to Rome and the great opportunities offered at the Pontifical North American College, five days will be dedicated to a preached retreat for the participating priests. Each retreat will have a different focus to deepen the spiritual and prayer life of the priest. The remaining three weeks in Modules 1 & 3 and all three weeks in Module 2 will be dedicated to continuing education on a specific theme, combining classroom instruction and on site outings pertinent to the subject of each module. A very attractive feature of the program will be the opportunity for visits and dialogue with offices of the Vatican Curia and other ecclesial and international organizations based in Rome that will sharpen knowledge and skills in the areas being taught.

Download the brochure here.


Tuesday, September 8 – Saturday, October 3 (5 day priest retreat and three weeks continuing education)

Featured presenters:

  • Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM, Cap., Preacher of the Papal Household, is leading our five-day retreat.
  • Elizabeth Lev, Duquesne University, gives us tours of the Vatican and Roman Basilicas

The objective of this module, offered by qualified and experienced Catholic art historians, is to help participants “learn” the treasures that make up the Eternal City of Rome and the Franciscan city of Assisi (named as a UNESCO world heritage site in the year 2000) by developing the ability to approach art and architecture through an intellectual, emotional and visually informed perspective. Through this perspective, participating priests will experience the pedagogical and salvific power of great art as a means to express the love of Christ as well as deep theological themes. This course demonstrates the development of art in Rome and Assisi from the pre-Christian era through modern history, showing the Church’s role in building and saving Western Culture. Experiencing the most profound and beautiful truths of the faith through a sensory experience nurtures an evangelical spirit. The mission of this course is to enable priests to come to know and appreciate art and architecture, more profoundly, not only as an invaluable part of their Catholic patrimony, but as an indispensable element of ministry: a means of transcending and transforming hearts through beauty.



Tuesday, October 6 – Saturday, October 24 (three weeks continuing education)

Featured presenters:

  • Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., Editor in Chief of MAGNIFICAT., Saint Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie.
  • Fr. Craig Morrison, O.Carm., Pontifical Biblical Institute.

Every priest appreciates the importance of the homily and preaching for those entrusted to his care. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis highlights their importance in the Church’s evangelizing mission and calls for their “serious consideration” (n. 135) by all those entrusted with the task of preaching.

Drawing on long time experts in the field, this module will explore the unique and life-giving importance of preaching within the context of the New Evangelization. It will do this in three steps involving theory and practice:

  • An initial focus on the theology of preaching. What does preaching entail? How does it differ from catechesis? What elements are needed for effective preaching of the Good News in the opportunities and challenges of today’s culture?
  • An in depth consideration of tools that enhance preaching skills, most especially Sacred Scripture through the use of lectio divina and different means to deepen knowledge of the Bible. Other indispensable resources will also be considered, including the Church Fathers, Saints, the writings and texts of the Popes, and homiletic aids.
  • A third moment will be a hands on consideration of the season of Advent and Year “A” in the Lectionary, which will prepare priests for the upcoming year in the Church’s calendar.



Tuesday, October 26 – Saturday, November 21 (5 day priest retreat and three weeks continuing education)

Featured presenters:

  • Fr. Scott Brodeur, S.J., Gregorian University, is leading our pilgrimage to Malta.
  • Mr. Daniel J. Cellucci, Vice President from the Catholic Leadership Institute will provide a week focused on looking at the landscape of parish life today through the lens of recent research including the Institute¹s Disciple Maker Index, a new study of close to 100 parishes and over 20,000 Catholics.  Mr. Cellucci will engage participating priests in how this research can help shape their ministry in parishes and create the culture of encounter to which the Church calls us.  Whether you have completed the Institute’s Good Leaders, Good Shepherds curriculum or not, this module is a great opportunity to gain new content, new perspective and new tools to enhance your three-fold office of priesthood.

The Second Vatican Council declared that the Church is “missionary by her very nature” (Decree Ad Gentes on the Missionary Activity of the Church, n. 2) and the first duty of every priest is to evangelize, that is, proclaim the Good News of God’s saving love and mercy for humanity. Since then, successive Pontiffs have urged the Church at all levels to develop methods and skills in evangelization that responds to the challenges and opportunities of society today.

This module will be led by experts and witnesses of the Church’s evangelization efforts. Moreover, it will provide the unique opportunity to engage in discussion and dialogue with offices of the Roman Curia and witness concrete outreaches in Rome that will broaden and enrich understanding of the New Evangelization. The following areas will receive specific focus:

  • The Scriptural foundations of evangelization, particularly in the writings of Saint Paul. This first section will offer the very attractive feature of travel to Malta, following a short Scripture Study Tour “In the Footsteps of Saint Paul”;
  • The historical and current expressions of evangelization – in parishes, Dioceses, religious orders, and new communities.

Challenges and opportunities provided by today’s culture, including how we are called to engage our culture, reach out to the young, married couples, families and the unchurched, and foster proper collaboration between clergy and laity.


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 2015 semester, 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 life time 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 an individual control heat and air conditioning. Priests have use of the College’s library, exercise facilities, and money-exchange services.


V. Costs

FALL 2015 – MODULE 1 (4 wks) $5,600
FALL 2015 – MODULE 2 (3 wks) $3,800
FALL 2015 – MODULE 3 (4 wks) $6,100
SPRING 2016  (10 WEEK SESSION) $11,000
Optional Holy Land Pilgrimage during Holy Week & Easter $3,400



MODULE 1: In Rome and in Greece: Following in the Footsteps of Saint Paul – $6,700
September 6 through October 1
(includes a five-day preached retreat and a seven-day pilgrimage to Greece).

MODULE 2: In Rome and in the Holy Land: The Church’s Works of Mercy – $5,400
October 4 through October 22
(includes a seven-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land).

MODULE 3: In Rome and in Siena: The Beauty of its Art and Architecture – $5,500
October 25 through November 19
(includes a five-day preached retreat and a five-day touring trip from Rome to Siena).

SPRING 2017 (3 MONTH SESSION) $11,750
January 17 though April 7, 2017

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.

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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 […]