Center for the Renewal of Catholic Theology

Center for the Renewal of Catholic Theology


Integral to the mission of the University, and most important for the long-term renewal of Catholic intellectual, moral and pastoral life today, the Center for the Renewal of Catholic Theology has two main goals: (1) to assist in funding theology doctoral student stipends since the future of any science or scholarly discipline is determined by the quality of their doctoral programs; (2) to fund lectures and conferences that bring to the university major scholars dedicated to genuine intellectual and faith life in the Church and culture.  Their presentations are often published.  One hundred percent of all the donations to the Center go directly to support these goals.

Mission Statement

This Center is dedicated to the renewal of Catholic Theology as integral to the mission of Ave Maria University.  The future of any science or scholarly discipline is determined by the quality of their graduate programs, and most especially their doctoral programs.  This Center supports the graduate doctoral theological education program at Ave Maria University.  This doctoral program is most important for the long term renewal of Catholic intellectual, moral, and pastoral life today.

Over the past six generations Roman Catholic institutional achievements in the United States are impressive.  Besides the vast pastoral network of some 19,000 parishes, there are about 9,500 elementary and secondary schools, about 220 universities or colleges, and over 150 seminaries.  Added to this is a health care system which comprises some 640 hospitals, 206 clinics and dispensaries, 667 nursing homes, and 239 child welfare centers taking care of about 48 million patients a year.

Do Catholics today in America take responsibility for these achievements? The achievements are precarious and each generation must be sure these institutions are informed with a genuinely Catholic intellectual, moral and sacramental life.  Our Catholic elementary and secondary schools, as well as colleges and universities, hire many teachers and administrators who are not of the Catholic faith, or if Catholic they have not been educated in the Catholic wisdom traditions.  In addition we know of the many challenges our health care system has faced and continues to face in order to be faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Ave Maria University has a mission to bring the Catholic Church’s wisdom and truth to the world so in need of Christ’s redemptive Gospel and love.  The Church has great need of faithful and intelligent theologians who know the wealth of the two millennia of Catholic wisdom to “teach the teachers”.

Ave Maria University offers demanding MA and PhD programs in theology. For the MA 48 credit hours are required; for the PhD another 80 credit hours of courses are required beyond the MA.  A reading knowledge of Latin is required by the beginning of the second year of the MA; and a reading knowledge of Latin and Greek, along with either French or German are required in the PhD program.

Ave Maria University also has an Institute for Pastoral Theology that provides a Master of Theological Studies for over one hundred students around the country.  They are given a well grounded formation in the Church’s teaching geared toward catechetical teaching and pastoral assistance. 

There is a multiplication effect of “teaching the teachers.”  For example, suppose Ave Maria will be graduating at least 10 well-formed Catholic theology teachers each year.  To understand the magnitude of this, suppose  each of those 10 will be teaching some 60 students per semester, which totals 600 students per semester or 1200 per year taught.  Over a career of 40 years, we are talking about 40,000 students taught in the lifetime of each new graduating class of 10 theologians.  With 400 graduates during the 40 years, they would be teaching about half a million students.   Already 10 graduates from our doctoral program have been hired in graduate/university level theology faculty; and some 50 graduates from our M.A. program are either pursuing doctorates, teaching in high schools, catechetics or are employed as Directors of Religious Education in parishes or dioceses.  Teaching the teachers is beginning to bear fruit for the Church and culture.

Dissent spreads from classrooms and catechism classes, from seminaries and colleges, to the media, newspapers, and Catholic politicians who dissent from Catholic teachings. Properly formed theologians can counteract dissent in our Catholic institutions, in the media, and with our Catholic politicians.  We believe that the theology graduates of Ave Maria University can make a significant and very important impact on the future of the Catholic Church.

Catholics are not used to supporting graduate theology programs.  For generations Catholics have supported seminarians, religious, and priests who would undertake graduate studies in theology.  But now the vast majority of graduate students are laity. Graduate programs, especially those on the doctoral level, are expensive.  While our MA programs offer some tuition remission grants each year, the doctoral students are offered both a complete tuition remission and stipend.  We have very intelligent and dedicated graduate students faithful to the Church’s teachings.  While we receive anywhere from twenty to forty applications for the doctoral program each year we accept only the top three or four.   


The Center for the Renewal of Catholic Theology is governed by the following Board of Directors drawn from the Department of Theology at Ave Maria University:

Michael Dauphinais, M.T.S., Ph.D. [bio]

Fr. Matthew Lamb, S.T.L., Dr. Theo. [bio]

Roger Nutt, S.T.L., S.T.D. [bio]

Gregory Vall, M.A., Ph.D. [bio]

Michael Waldstein, S.S.L., Ph.D., Th.D. [bio]

These directors are responsible for the collection and disbursement of the funds collected in the Center's independent account. This account is exclusively for the stipends given to the doctoral students in theology. Foundations and donors are assured that one hundred percent of their contributions will be distributed for doctoral student stipends.

Publications of Conferences


Reading John with St. Thomas Aquinas: Theological Exegesis and Speculative Theology edited by M. Dauphinais & M. Levering (Catholic University of America Press, 2005).

John Paul II and St. Thomas Aquinas edited by M. Dauphinais & M. Levering (Sapientia Press of Ave Maria University, 2006).

John Paul II and the Holy Land edited by D. Dalin & M. Levering (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007)

Aquinas the Augustinian M. Dauphinais, B. David, & M. Levering (Catholic University of America Press, 2007).

Rediscovering Aquinas and the Sacraments: Studies in Sacramental Theology edited by M. Dauphinais & M. Levering (Hillenbrand Books, 2009)

Humanae Vitae: Forty Years Later published in Nova et Vetera: English Edition of the International Journal vol. 6, n. 1 (Fall, 2008)

Reading Romans with St. Thomas Aquinas: Ecumenical Explorations edited by M. Dauphinais & M. Levering (Catholic University of America Press, forthcoming)

Catholicism and America: Challenges and Prospects edited by Fr. M. Lamb (Sapientia Press of Ave Maria University, forthcoming)

Philosophy in Theological Education: Essays in Honor of Ralph McInerny forthcoming.