Mindful of the unchanging philosophy that the future pastor's scholastic achievements and theological competence are to be actualized and expressed in a life of personal integrity, humility, compassion and service to God's creation, St. Tikhon's Field Education Program concentrates on the practical formation of dedicated pastors and spiritual counselors who will lovingly and courageously shepherd the flock of Christ entrusted to their care.
During the years of his future pastoral ministry, the Seminarian will be confronted by an array of life situations that will require of him not just abstract theological knowledge, but also tact and pastoral sensitivity, wisdom and objectivity of judgment, as well as creativity of individual approach. This will hold especially true when he will be called to provide pastoral care in situations of clinical distress, to individuals who have lost a measure of human freedom and dignity, and often endure in various stages of confinement in homes and institutions, rehabilitation programs and centers: the sick, the dying and the bereaved; those who are confined to nursing and convalescent homes; the imprisoned, the mentally ill, and those caught in self-destructive patterns of alcohol and substance addiction or abuse.
In addition to the course work outlined and prescribed by the theological curriculum, as well as the faith experience of a rich liturgical life of the Seminary community, which together provide the necessary academic, spiritual, personal and professional foundations for students to become pastors and workers in Christ's Holy Church, St. Tikhon's Seminary has instituted a Field Education Program to provide the Seminarian with practical training and facilitate direct on-the-job experience in ministering to the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of people in an array of authentic situations requiring understanding of different aspects of clinical pastoral care. Under the direct supervision of individuals who professionally provide such clinical pastoral care in the various broad fields and specialties of Pastoral Ministry, future pastors are challenged to become a functional part of the treatment team, to acquire proper pastoral skills, attitudes and approaches, and otherwise learn to apply the theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom to real-life situations in different community settings.
Goals and Purposes
Theological field education promotes theological learning through active engagement in actual pastoral situations. It is a complex enterprise that does not take place automatically. Seminary formation is enriched as seminarians learn to relate their field education experience to academic, spiritual and personal formation.
Theological field education promotes theological reflection and personal integration. Theological reflection is critical for practical learning in a formational context. Through theological reflection on their experience, students perceive how theology and the tradition of the Church shed light on the pastoral situations that they experience. Theology is illumined in the process. Academic work and pastoral ministry come to reinforce one another. This mutual interaction also helps seminarians to sense the presence of God in these experiences, and to relate their life in Christ to the service of (ministry to) the People of God. Such learning can also represent a significant moment of personal integration.
Program participation requirements
Participation in the Field Education Program is required of all students in the middler year of the Master of Divinity (M. Div.) program (five units total, including a summer internship between the middler and the senior year). During Field Education orientation, each student is provided with a copy of the Seminary’s Field Education Handbook, which comprehensively outlines and sets forth the particular expectations and requirements of the Field Education program.
In consultation with the Academic Dean and with site supervisors, and taking into account individual student gifts and needs, the Director of Field Education assigns each participating student to a specific ministry area/field of specialization, e.g., Hospital and Prison Ministry, Alcohol and Drug Treatment, Nursing Home/Geriatrics, or others, at one or more Field Education training sites with which St. Tikhon's Seminary maintains cooperative working relationships. After assignment to a field site and orientation, short, intensive talks are prepared and given by the site supervisors and staff on selected topics pertaining to specific pastoral requirements and approaches utilized by the pastoral care providers at that Field Education site, after which students participate in the delivery of clinical pastoral care at the assigned location.
At the end of each placement or training unit, a summative written evaluation is prepared by the student in accordance with accepted professional procedures, discussed and evaluated with the site supervisor and/or the Director of Field Education, and retained as part of the student's academic record.
As part of their professional training, during the period of summer vacation preceding their last year of academic study, students undertake summer internships in various areas of Parish and Youth Ministry, in accordance with their individual interests: as parish administrative assistants, choir directors, Vacation Bible School teachers or program directors, camp counselors, chaplains, and others. In consultation with the Director of Field Education, the student seeks the support of a Seminary-approved mentor (usually the parish rector) or Youth Program director, and submits for approval by the Director of Field Education a written proposal outlining the learning objectives and expected outcomes of the internship. At the conclusion of the internship, a summative written evaluation is prepared by the student in accordance with accepted professional procedures, discussed and evaluated with the student's Mentor and/or the Director of Field Education, and retained as permanent part of the student's Academic Record. Academic credit for the summer internship is granted in consultation with the Registrar, and approval by the Academic Dean.