◼◼◼ NOW ACCEPTING STUDENT APPLICATIONS FOR SEPTEMBER 2023 ◼◼◼
About the St. Maria of Paris Lived Theology School
“We intend to establish a school of service of the Lord...” — Prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict.
The St. Maria of Paris Lived Theology School (LTS) is not an academic school. It is rather a way to serve and to learn through prayer and theological reflection. The LTS is a “school of service of the Lord” (Prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict).
Starting in the fall of 2021, in an ecumenical openness the school accepts anyone (18+) the opportunity to learn from the poor and marginalized by exercising a pastoral ministry of service in a busy inner-city Orthodox mission.
The LTS is a place to be ‘schooled’ in the practice and meaning of a specifically Orthodox approach to mission. This is done through serving and theological reflection on the meaning of mission, as it is lived in a community that has served the inner-city poor and marginalized in Toronto since 1986.
St. Maria of Paris, and others with her, not only served the poor but also sought to relate what they were living to the theological understanding of the Orthodox Church. It is in this spirit that the LTS lives within the community of those who serve, and are served, at St. John the Compassionate Mission here in Toronto, Ontario.
The St. Maria of Paris Lived Theology School was established in 2010 with the blessing of the late Metropolitan Nicholas of the Carpatho-Russian Diocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Why is mission necessary today?
“Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’” — Matthew 25:45
Look up the words ‘missionary’ and ‘mission,’ and you will quickly find that they are linked to the idea of working in a foreign country. However, it is the mission of the Church to serve the world wherever it is. Such a mission may for some be in a foreign land, but for others it is to serve those in need on one’s very doorstep. St. John the Compassionate Mission is unique, and one of the Orthodox places of mission ‘on the doorstep.’
St. Maria of Paris
Elizabeth Skobtsova, St. Maria of Paris, is our patron saint.
“At the Last Judgment I will not be asked whether I satisfactorily practiced asceticism, nor how many bows I have made before the divine altar. I will be asked whether I fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick, and the prisoner in his jail. That is all I will be asked.” — Mother Maria
“There is no such thing as a Christian problem. Don’t you realize that the battle is being waged against Christianity? If we were true Christians, we would all wear the star. The age of confessors has arrived.” — Mother Maria
How it works
The aim of the LTS is give the opportunity for a year for reflection, study, ministry, and prayer. This is not a volunteer position, but an opportunity to daily practice and study Orthodox mission in a lived-community setting.
The LTS program is open to anyone, regardless of religious affiliation. The experience includes:
- serving with others in the pastoral care of those who come to the Mission;
- participating in the rich liturgical life of the Mission;
- participating in theological reflection designed to deepen their understanding of Orthodox mission in the modern world;
- living in a community house (Lourmel);
- having regular times of ‘desert’ retreat at St. Mary of Egypt Refuge;
- attending weekly classes, with time for reading and study.
Students who wish could also take extra courses at the Orthodox School of Theology at Trinity College of the University of Toronto. The fees for these courses are not covered by LTS tuition.
For whom is the Lived Theology School program intended?
The program will be open to any person (over the age of 18, male or female) who wishes to learn from the poor, and further develop their own skills and knowledge for engaging in mission in a first-world context. Regardless of the church affiliation of the student it is understood that the context for LTS learning is the life and faith of the Orthodox Church. References from the individual’s parish priest and other recognized persons will be required. A minimum of human and spiritual maturity is required to really take advantage of this year at LTS.
The program is likely to appeal to a wide range of persons including:
- lay persons who take their Christian faith seriously, and who wish to apply their faith to the reality of the modern world;
- those who desire to go deeper in study of the Orthodox faith, and learn about the Orthodox church;
- those who have completed theological studies, including candidates for ordination;
- those seeking pastoral experience;
- those seeking a period of discernment before making life decisions like marriage, monastic life, or ordination;
- people interested in how the Church can engage with the world today in our culture and society;
- persons who are retired, widowed, or single, looking for a place to give of themselves in the service of the Church.
Contact — How to Apply
Do you need more information?
If you would like to inquire about the Lived Theology program, send an e-mail to Father Nicolaie at firstname.lastname@example.org, and start a conversation.
Following your contact with Father, a formal application form will be mailed to you.
International students will need to purchase their own health insurance, and some may need a visa. Students will have to pay their own transportation to the Mission. Monthly tuition, including room and board and all other travel expenses during the duration of the program, is $600 (Canadian) per month.
Please note: application to the program requires the first month’s tuition. This will be returned if the candidate is not accepted. However, this first month’s tuition submitted with application is non-refundable if the candidate withdrawals the application after submitting it for consideration.
Candidates for the LTS are encouraged to seek sponsorship from their diocese, parish, family, and friends, who thus participate in this way to the efforts of the student.
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