The St. Sava School of Theology has as its main mission and goal to provide religious education and to train candidates who are from the United States and Canada and from other countries for the Holy Priesthood in the Serbian Orthodox Church specifically, and for interested individuals of other ethnic jurisdictions of the Orthodox Christian Faith. The school functions as the educational center for individuals committed to serving the Serbian Orthodox Church and her people in a multi-lingual environment. Initially, the school provides quality baccalaureate level study in Theology leading to the Bachelor of Divinity Degree as approved and as uniquely required for the Serbian Orthodox Church both for resident full-time students and part-time students. The eventual goal is to develop a program of study on the graduate level for those who wish to pursue advanced studies both here in other Orthodox graduate institutions. The philosophy that is represented by the School is to prepare candidates in the spirit of the ancient Orthodox Christian faith, Her theology, Her Traditions, customs, rites and rituals, ecclesiology, and commitment to the fulfillment of the commission entrusted to Her by Christ and handed down by the Holy Apostles and their successors - the salvation of souls and eternal life for all mankind.
The initial strategy in establishing this institution was to form relationships with existing Schools of Theology, and concurrently to establish the basis for a self-sustaining school. Initially a close relationship was maintained with the Serbian Orthodox Theological Faculty [School of Theology] in Belgrade when the St. Sava School was opened as a branch of the Belgrade School, located at St. Sava Monastery in Libertyville, Illinois. A working relationship was also formed with LSTC [Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago], for the purposes of registration, some coursework, and the coming of the faculty and of a few students from Yugoslavia to study in the United States. Subsequently, the St. Sava School of Theology applied for and received a Charter from the Holy Assembly of Bishops and of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and has completed the necessary requirements to meet the criteria for Operating Authority in Illinois. On that basis the School has also received the authority to grant the Bachelor of Divinity Degree.
The Institution by nature is to be a small one, with a specialized program for students interested in the priesthood, and/or for preparation for advanced studies in Orthodox Christian Theology. Facilities have been secured for housing and boarding of students, classroom space, and beginnings of the specialized library. Cooperative programs with other Theological schools, library usage, and exchanging of instructors have been planned. The School is structured to operate its program, in accordance with the American plan now being followed to comply with the State Board of Higher Educational requirements.
Funding is provided by an annual budget proposed by the School and adopted and implemented by the Central Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States and Canada. As the needs of the School grow, the budget is adjusted accordingly. Financial support is sought from all the Dioceses and Church Congregations comprising the Church.
The Governing Board of the institution, known as the Board of Trustees, is to be comprised of the hierarchy (bishops) of the Church, two members of the clergy and ten laymen, the Dean, and Provost. The Board of Trustees will have an Executive Committee to functions in intervals between Board of Trustees meetings, to transact such business of the School as the Trustees authorize. The Board of Trustees shall have a Finance Committee to exercise general supervision over the School's finances for the support and maintenance of the School. The Board of Trustees will exercise the responsibilities of overseeing that the School plant, Faculty, Student body and school finances are properly functioning as provided for by the laws and ordinances of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States of America and Canada, of the School and, as may be required by relevant Church, academic, and civil authorities.
The design and conduct of the degree program is that which is prescribed by the Episcopal Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church and approved by the Holy Assembly of Bishops for general theological curriculum requirements. The Faculty Council is responsible for its implementation in accordance with the criteria of the Association of Theological Schools in the U.S. and the degree granting authorities for Higher Education of the State of Illinois. The school will seek membership in the Association of Theological Schools in order to assure that the quality of the program will be maintained.
Student evaluations will be made in the Spring of the Sophomore and Junior years and in the Fall of the Senior year. The process is intended to help students determine their own vocational decision with the aid of a career assessment program. This decision will be supplemented by the faculty's evaluation and decision on whether to support the student's candidacy for ordination.
There is also a process of internship diagnosis, carried out in the context of the Teaching Parish Teams, designed to help students recognize the ministerial areas in which they need to grow. A post-internship review involves the faculty's evaluation of the student's general fitness for the ministry.
Admission requirements for the School of Theology include: graduation from High School, Junior College, college, or a Middle Orthodox Seminary, with grades of A and B, or grade point average of 3.0, and the passing of an entrance examination.
a) The number of Credits accepted by transferring from other institutions will be determined by the nature of the other institution, and whether the courses being submitted are the equivalent of courses offered at this School. The transferring student shall be required to complete the prescribed curriculum of this school and full credit will be accorded for same language courses.
b) Life experience credits will be determined by evaluation of work done in Church service that is relevant to program objectives and appropriate to courses offered, such as liturgical chant with rubrics, administration, and a satisfactory proficiency in the languages offered by this school.
c) Proficiency examination credits will be accepted only for liturgical chant, rubrics, and languages offered by this school, and the courses will be waived if the candidate shows a proficiency of a grade of B.
d) The grade point average for advancement and graduation is 2.50.
e) The residency requirement for all full-time students is four years. Transfer students and special students who have be evaluated must satisfy a minimum of one year's residency- or more as required to satisfy all requirements for graduation.
f) The time limit for completion of the program is four years.
g) A certificate from the School Librarian that all library books have been returned must be submitted.
h) Every student will be graded annually for attendance and participation at daily and festal worship services. The grade will be shown in the transcript under practicum. Failure will be taken into account as to whether the student will continue studies. Only one make-up exam is allowed two weeks after finals. The course must be repeated with passing grade with no makeup exam for graduation.
The Academic program has as its primary emphasis the preparation of candidates for ordination to the Holy Priesthood in the [Serbian] Orthodox Church. The spiritual life, worship, field education, and course work focuses on service and mission - consistent with the Lord's commission to go and teach, and baptize, and to be good shepherds of souls, in order to develop in the candidates a deep sense of mission as pastors, priests, counselors, teachers of the faith, and service to the Church community and community at large. Students who show academic promise are encouraged to continue graduate studies in preparation for assuming responsibilities in the Church's institutions as professors, administrators, and for other leadership roles.
In the formative years of the school, the types of students to be served by the proposed program are those whose primary interest is the Priesthood, and service to the Church and community in the ordained ministry. Students will be accepted from Europe as well as from Parishes in the United States and Canada. The school will strive to provide stipends for scholarships for future priests where possible. The average age upon admission is 19, although delayed vocational students are also accepted - either as full time students or part time. Eligibility for admission is based on the Orthodox criteria for ordination, or expressed interest in serving the Church in the Teaching ministry. Provision at the present time is for all full time students to reside in the dormitory of the school and attend worship services twice daily.
This school at present offers only one Program, leading to the Bachelor of Divinity Degree. The total credit-hours for graduation is 150.
The Dormitory, Class rooms and Refectory of the School of Theology are housed in the St Sava Monastery Camp Building during the School year which is approximately four times the size depicted above. Other facilities are located in various locations on the Monastery grounds.
Facilities consist of the following:
a) Large red brick building with a large commons-dinner hall, kitchen, recreation room, class rooms, dorm rooms for student housing, student lounge and office,
b) Church for worship,
c) A frame Library building with three areas for bookshelves, catalogue room with computer and one room for office,
d) A two story frame house with space allocated for the residence of priest, an apartment for instructor, and sun porch space for religious educational needs.
All students live in the dormitory and are required to abide strictly by the Rules regulating all aspects of student life in the School of Theology. These rules include dormitory life and all duties connected therewith, attendance and participation at all worship services and the maintenance of cleanliness in the dormitory, Church and Sanctuary, refectory and other assigned duties.
These duties are assigned by the Dean of Students, who supervises student life and activities in the dorm and all facilities as required. He also assigns their weekly schedule as cantors at both cantor stands in the Church and assures their regular attendance at all worship services. He coordinates refectory schedules with the class schedules and maintains inspection of student dormitory, refectory and other facilities utilized by the students.
The professors and students are actively involved in the church life of the Serbian Orthodox Church in America and Canada, especially in the Midwestern Metropolitanate. Matins and Vespers are served daily at St. Sava Monastery, as well as Vigils and Divine Liturgies according to the Church Calendar. During Great Lent, the students preach at services in the Midwestern Metropolitanate and also give concerts of sacred music. During the summer and when possible, the student chorus travels to other Dioceses on concert tours in behalf of the school. The student chorus released its first cassette and CD of sacred music for distribution among the parishes for the benefit of the School.
Graduates, upon ordination, are appointed to Parishes in one of the four dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the U.S.A. and Canada - as pastors, as second priests, or as personnel in the Religious Education departments of the respective dioceses or parishes. Some graduates continue post-graduate studies at various theological institutions or Universities.
Graduates who have not committed to marriage or to the monastic tonsure yet usually begin an active ministry even before ordination. This would occur either in the US, Canada or in their home Diocese abroad. Some pursue post-graduate studies and actively work in the Religious Educational ministry of the Church and have earned advanced degrees. Over 50 graduates have been ordained to the Priesthood.