St. John Vianney Seminary Lay Division

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is the Denver Catholic Biblical School?
A. The Denver Catholic Biblical School was founded in response to Vatican II’s call for a renewal in the study of Sacred Scripture among the people of God. Whether you have been a long-time student of the Scriptures or are a beginner, this program will help you discover the timelessness of God’s Word and transform your life!

The program is a four-year in-depth reading and studying of all the books of the Bible within the context of the Catholic Tradition. The Sacred Scriptures are presented in an integral and integrated way: every book of the Bible is studied while the connection between the books of the Bible is demonstrated.  Each year builds upon the previous year and looks forward to the next.  The following is the plan of study for the program:

FIRST YEAR:  From Eden to Exile: Salvation History from Genesis to 2 Maccabees
SECOND YEAR:  Proclaiming the Kingdom: The Synoptic Gospels, Acts and the Letters of Paul
THIRD YEAR:  A Future and a Hope: The Prophets, Tobit, Judith and Esther
FOURTH YEAR:  Wisdom and the Word: The Psalms and Wisdom Literature; Catholic Epistles; John and Revelation

Also, please watch the excellent YouTube video here or on our homepage.

Q. What is the Denver Catholic Catechetical School?
A. Sharing the same mission of the CBS to help students encounter the person of Jesus Christ, the Catechetical School overs several different course programs, including:

  • The Pillars: a two-year walk through the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
  • Apologetics: Practical Catholicism (Lecture only with no homework or tests.)
  • The Art of Living: Mastering the Virtuous Life (Lecture only with no homework or tests.)

Q. What impact has the Biblical and Catechetical Schools had on the lives of the students?
A. Please visit the testimonials webpage to read personal accounts from students about how the programs have changed their lives.

Q. Why do people enroll in the Catholic Biblical and/or Catechetical Schools?
A. Students often enroll in either school for the following reasons: to grow in the knowledge and love of the faith; to encounter Jesus personally through study and prayer; to learn more about the Mass, sacraments, and moral life of the church; to develop a community of like minded catholics to share the journey of conversion; to learn how to explain and share the faith with others; to find emotional and/or spiritual healing through study of the material and small group discussions; simply learning how to read the Bible and/or catechism and be able to reference it when needed; finally, to feel more confident to participate in parish ministries.

Q. As a pastor, how can the programs benefit my parish and parishioners?
A. Pastors frequently note that their parishioners who are students and graduates are far more passionate and committed to their faith, more likely to volunteer time to their parish, donate more generously, and serve parish ministries or committees.

Q. What’s a typical class like?
A. Through lectures, small-group discussions and weekly coursework, the instructor guides students through the Bible or the Catechism and helps them discover God’s story, so in turn, they can discover their own. Each weekly class is 2 hours long.  Following Lectio Divina (prayer time), students meet in small-groups for a 30 minute discussion based on their prepared weekly assignment. In the second part of the class the students meet to hear a dynamic lecture by their instructor and have their questions answered. The lecture prepares students for their own reading of the text and their homework assignment for the upcoming week. The combination of lecture, reading, and discussion has proven to be an effective and fruitful process of adult education.

Q. How big is the class?
A. Class sizes vary, but typically range from 30 to 50 students. Sometimes there are more, sometimes less.

Q. What are my responsibilities as a student?
A. First, for Biblical School students, attend Prayer Day the Saturday before the first week of school begins. It’s an important time of prayer and instruction to set the foundation for the upcoming year. Second, for both Biblical School and Pillars students, attend class regularly (6 absences are permitted) and complete the weekly homework assignments. Tests are take home and open book (unless you are getting credit for Regis University).

Q. I’m not big on homework and (ugh) tests. Can I get a break?
A. The weekly assignment is principally the reading of the Scriptural or Catechetical text along with supplemental readings and the preparation of a few questions which help the students understand and apply the lessons to their life. The goal of the questions is to have the students engage the material intellectually and spiritually. Students mention that the application questions are the source of the most fruitful discussion in their small groups. The homework is not difficult and a very comprehensive review sheet is provided before the mid-term and final exams, which is open book for those that want it. Again, tests are take home and open book (unless you are getting credit for Regis University), which helps students to appreciate the test more as a review of the semester than a stressful exam.

Q. Why does the Catholic Biblical School use small groups?
A. Directed small group discussions have an effective and valuable place in the adult learning process. By expressing the lessons in their own words, students are able to better retain what they have learned, deepen their understanding of the material, and improve their ability to share it with others. Our small group discussions are outlined by the questions answered in homework, so discussions remain focused on the lesson at hand. Students report the small group discussions have helped them better see how God is working in people’s lives and find Scripture is brought to life in new ways.

Q. Can I be at the same small discussion group as my family/friend?

A. Family members and spouses do not attend the same small groups together in order to better facilitate discussion and fellowship with new members of the Church community. Every year new groups are formed with new classmates for this same purpose.

Q. How does this program differ from other Bible classes, such as The Bible Timeline or Formed?
A. Bible studies offered by parishes often have great resources, including study guides and DVD lectures. These are wonderful courses and often cover selected themes or portions of the Bible, and they generally include discussion of the material. The strength of the Biblical and Catechetical School lies in the live instruction from quality instructors, who all have a Master’s degree in Theology, and the small group discussions overseen by the same instructor. Video programs, though formative and excellent in their own way, do not offer the same quality and depth of formation found in our program of study. Other parish group studies that may have live instructors do not benefit from a time tested and life changing integrated curriculum that takes the student through every book of the Bible, thus imparting both a general and specific education on Salvation History.

Q. How many hours each week will this require?
A. Classes are two hours in length.  Scriptural reading assignments and thoughtful homework responses typically require another 2-3 hours each week.

Q. How many weeks do we meet?
A. The school year consists of 30 weeks of classes, spanning September to May, with breaks typically in the fall and spring, as well as time off for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Holy Week.

Q. Can I make up a missed class?
A. Students who are unable to attend their regular class are encouraged to find another class location that week. If that is not possible, we also allow our students to record lectures and share those recordings only within their small group and/or with other classmates; however, we prohibit the distribution of recordings to anyone outside of the student body. Students are allowed to miss up to six classes per year (e.g., three per semester), but all homework is due by the end of the school year—even for missed classes. Extraordinary circumstances leading to further absences can be discussed with the instructor.

Q. Where and when are classes held?
A. We offer both morning and evening classes at various locations throughout the Archdiocese of Denver and the Diocese of Colorado Springs in order to make the programs as accessible as possible. Please check our websites for the latest listings of class locations.

Q. Is the class at the same time and same location for all the years?
A. Yes, the class day, time, and location will not change. However, if a student decides to attend another location, they are free to do so.

Q. Is there an information session I could attend to get more details?
A. Yes, we give information sessions in multiple parishes throughout July and August for the Biblical School, Pillars, and Apologetics. During these sessions, you will receive a dynamic talk by one of our instructors and get information about what to expect from the program. Please check our website for the latest information session schedule. All new students are expected to attend an information session before attending class so they are fulling informed before committing to the program.

Q. Can I register for Year 1 even if I have not attended a summer information session?
A. Yes, you can register for any program at any time. However, we find that students are more successful over the course of the 2 or 4-year program if they have attended the information session in the summer and listened to one of our instructors explain what to expect from the program. While we do require new students attend one of these sessions before class begins, we will not prevent them from registering if they cannot. They will simply get a mini-session at the first day of class by their instructor.

Q. How and where do I register?
A. Registration for the 2017-2018 year has closed. The 2018-2019 locations will be announced in April 2018 and online registration is expected to open April 1, 2018.

Q. Is there a distance learning option for your classes? And/or are the courses offered online?
A. Our format is classroom based, with a strong focus on small group interaction. We offer classes at parishes in the Denver metro area, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, and on the western slope in Glenwood Springs, CO. We are exploring options for possibly teleconferencing a class with a live instructor and having a local proctor to help manage attendance, small group discussions, and other logistics for off-site classes. Those options are not yet in place and require more planning and discussion in order to maintain the integrity of our program and retain the value of the classroom interaction among students.

Q. Can my teenage son or daughter attend classes?
A. It is a long-standing policy that students be adults, that is, 18 years old or older. There are a variety of reasons that this policy is in place, including mature lecture content and the inappropriateness of a minor to sit with adults and seniors at small group discussing mature and complicated personal life matters.

Q. Can you let me know which instructor is teaching at “X” location this year?
A. Instructor assignments are not announced until just before classes begin, but they are all excellent!

Q. I started the Biblical School several years ago. Can I pick up where I left off?
A. Generally, the answer is yes. However, the curriculum changed around 2003 so we highly recommend that anyone who took classes prior to that timeframe and did not graduate to re-take classes.

Q. Can I double up on classes in one year and/or take the years out of order?
A. Students must complete all four years in sequence because each year’s curriculum builds upon the previous, so it is important to take each year sequentially.  As such, we don’t allow students to take simultaneous years of the Biblical School in one year.

Q. How much is tuition and books?
A. For the 2017-2018 year, tuition (includes $20 non-refundable registration fee) is as follows:

— $620 for Biblical School (Years 1-4) and Ladder of Ascent-Year 1
— $515 for Ladder of Ascent-Year 2 (formerly Pillars 2)
— $445 for our Supplemental Programs (Apologetics, Art of Living, Pilgrimage: Church History)

Tuition includes the workbook where applicable. The cost of any required textbooks is additional. (Books typically cost less than $100 per year.) Tuition helps the Biblical and Catechetical Schools employ qualified instructors and staff in order to serve the parishes in the Archdiocese of Denver and the Diocese of Colorado Springs.

Q. Are there different tuition payment options?
A. Yes, payments can either be made at the beginning of the year, one for each semester, or monthly from September to May. Tuition balances must be paid in full by May 15 of the spring semester.

Q. Are there any discounts or tuition assistance programs available?
A. Yes, seniors (65 and older) and military receive a 10% discount. Discounts are also available for active military, veterans and first responders. There is also limited tuition assistance available to those who truly need financial help. Please request a Financial Aid Request Form from the office and submit it before the deadline September 1st. The Director will then evaluate all the requests at once to distribute the funds to as many applicants as possible, who will be notified before September 9.

Q. Is there a discount for Archdiocesan lay ministers and Catholic school employees.
A. Every year there are twenty half-off (50%) scholarships for full-time Catholic school employees and another twenty for full-time employees working anywhere for the Archdiocesan entities. Full-time FOCUS missionaries are eligible for these scholarships as well. Only full-time employees of Archdiocese of Denver qualify at this time.

Q. I see where deacons receive a full scholarship. Do deacon’s wives also qualify?
A. The scholarship only extends to deacons at this time. In the future we hope to have discounts for their wives too.

Q. Does the G.I. Bill cover tuition?
A. As of December 2015, the Veteran’s Administration representative from Regis University has told us that because CBS is a non-degree program it is not eligible to be on the VA-approved list.

Q. What books are used with the classes?
A. Please visit the Student Documents link (under Quick Links on homepage) for book information specific to the class year.

Q. How can I purchase books?
A. Books are available to purchase throughout the school year in the classroom and all year from the school office. During the spring semester, books for the following year of study for rising classes are also made available for purchse. Please contact your instructor or the office for more information. If you wish to pick up your books from the office, please call 303.715.3195 in advance to be sure someone is available to help you with the purchase.

Q. Is there a summer assignment?
A. Yes, for Biblical School students only. A brief summer reading assignment with a few homework questions should be completed and turned in the first day of class. Student can get their assignments by visiting our webpage and clicking on Student Documents (under Quick Links).

Q. What and when is Prayer Day?
A. Prayer Day is the orientation day and kickoff for a new academic year in the Biblical School. The Catechetical School does not have one. It typically falls on the first Saturday immediately after Labor Day. The current Academic Calendar is available on our website (Student Documents). The location for each year’s Prayer Day is listed on the respective page for each year.

Q. Do I have to attend Prayer Day?
A. Yes, Prayer Day is mandatory because it sets the intellectual and spiritual foundation for the upcoming year’s program of study, but if you are unable to attend, you should notify your instructor at the first class you attend in the fall. Your instructor can provide you with any handouts and/or important information that was disseminated at Prayer & Orientation. Missing Prayer Day will count as one (1) absence. We understand that our students have other commitments that may prevent them from attending a Saturday Prayer Day.  Please know that up to three (3) absences are allowed in a semester (for a total of 6 per year), and additional absences may be allowed at the discretion of the instructor depending on the circumstances. As such, it is acceptable for a student to miss Prayer Day, but we prefer that students try to attend.

Q. Do I have to register for Prayer Day?
A. No, students do not have to register in advance for Prayer Day, but we will take attendance at the door.

Q. Is there a special assignment for missing Prayer Day?
A. No, there is no special assignment for missing Prayer Day.

Q. Does the Biblical School offer a degree? What do I earn after completing the program?
A. The Biblical School and Catechetical Schools do NOT offer degree programs. The Catholic Biblical School awards a Certificate of Biblical Studies to individuals who fulfill the requirements of the 4year program.  The Catechetical School Pillars program awards a Certificate of Catechetical Studies to individuals who fulfill the requirements of the 2 year program. Apologetics and Art of Living do not offer certificates.{NOTE: See below for information on college credit from Regis University}

Q. Can I get college credit for my studies?
A. Yes, through Regis University. For an additional cost and the completion of additional homework requirements, a Biblical School student can receive 3 undergraduate religious studies credit hours for the whole year (September through May). A Catechetical School student can receive 3 undergraduate religious studies credit hours per semester (September through January; January through May) thus bringing the total credit able to be accumulated for the year to 6 credits.

Q. Are assignments and tests graded?
A. We do not issue any letter grades for the 4-year CBS program or the 2-year Pillars program. Homework and tests are pass or fail. However, our instructors do indicate whether or not a student has completed all of their course work. Students who have selected to get Regis University credit will receive grade based on their work.

Q. I am a graduate of the Biblical School and want to go back through again.  Is there any paperwork I must do or do I just show up at the classes?
A. The auditing option is available only to those students who have graduated from the 4-year Biblical School or 2-year Pillars Course.  Auditing students may attend the lecture portion of the weekly classes (and auditors typically sit at a table in the back of the classroom so that they do not disturb the other students).  You may not participate in the small group discussions, although if you want to coordinate with other auditing students to form your own small groups for discussion the instructor may allow that.  Please register via our website and select the “auditor” box. There is no registration fee or tuition for auditors.
[NOTE:  Students MUST be graduates in order to audit a course; they cannot be current students who want to “re-take” a year.]