Because more than a handful of people (including one of my own sons!) have asked me over the last couple of years for texts that we’ve used in our academic studies in the diaconate formation program… I am compiling this list and will try to keep it updated as new classes’ texts are assigned. Enjoy!


Course texts:

  • Plato, Five Dialogues, Hackett Press
  • Edward Feser, Aquinas, A Beginner’s Guide, Oneworld Books
  • St. Augustine, Confessions, New City Press
  • Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, Pauline Press
  • C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, HarperOne

The following short readings are available free online:

Introduction to Scripture:

Required texts:

  • Bible (any version is fine, but the Ignatius RSV-2nd Catholic Ed. is the one I’ll be using in class)
  • Gray and Cavins, Walking With God: A Journey through the Bible 
  • Ramage, Dark Passages of the Bible: Engaging Scripture with Benedict XVI and Thomas Aquinas
  • Ramage, Jesus, Interpreted: Benedict XVI, Bart Ehrman, and the Historical Truth of the Gospels

Recommended texts for your own growth and ministry:

  • Ignatius Catholic Study Bible (currently the entire NT is available, as well as many books of the OT which can be purchased as stand-alone volumes)
  • Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini
  • Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth (trilogy)
  • Benedict XVI, Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early Church
  • Benedict XVI, Paul
  • Joseph Ratzinger, In the Beginning
  • Brant Pitre, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist
  • Brant Pitre and John Bergsma, A Catholic Introduction to the Old Testament
  • Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word: Meditations on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew
  • Peter Kreeft, You Can Understand The Bible: A Practical And Illuminating Guide To Each Book In The Bible
  • Michael Barber, Singing in the Reign: The Psalms and the Liturgy of God’s Kingdom
  • S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms

Church History:

  • John Vidmar, The Catholic Church Through the Ages (New York: Paulist, 2005)
  • Raymond E. Brown, The Churches That the Apostles Left Behind (Paulist Press, 1984)


Required texts:

  • St. Athanasius, Life of Anthony, trans. Robert C. Gregg (New York: Paulist Press, 1980)
  • St. Augustine, selections from “On the Trinity”, in Light from Light: An Anthology of Christian Mysticism, 55-70
  • St. Bernard of Clairvaux, On Loving God, trans. Robert Walton OSB (Washington : Consortium Press, 1974), 85-132
  • Rob Faesen, S.J., “Why Does the History of Christian Spirituality Matter?”, The Way, 55/4 (October 2016), 105–117. (RFaesen – Why Does the History of Christian Spirituality Matter?)
  • Francis’ “Ecological Education and Spirituality” from Laudato Si’:On Care for Our Common Home, ch. 6
  • Jens Soering, “The Kenotic Convict: A Divertissement on Contemporary Contemplative Spirituality in its Social Context” (JSoering – Kenotic Convict)
  • William of St. Thierry, The Nature and Dignity of Love, trans. Thomas X. Davis (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1981), n.21

Additional Resources Considered

  • Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, On Some Aspects of Christian Meditation (1989) Some Aspects of Christian Mediation (1989)
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part Four: Christian Prayer , n. 2700-2724. Catechism: Prayer in the Christian Life
  • Laurence Freeman OSB, “The Capacity for Contemplation” and “The Benefits and Spiritual Fruits of Meditation” in Meditation with Children (Miami: Convivium Press, 2013), 19-24, 27-34. ISBN: 1934-99653
  • John Main OSB, “In Reverence in our Heart” and “God’s Two Silences” from The Way of Unknowing (New York: Crossroad, 1990), 1-8. ISBN: 0824-51021-6
  • Jim Manney, A Simple Life-Changing Prayer: Discovering the Power of St. Ignatius Loyola’s Examen (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2011) ISBN: 0829-43535-2
  • Basil Pennington O.C.S.O., Lectio Divina: Renewing the Ancient Practice of Praying the Scriptures (New York: Crossroad, 1988), 57-69, 123-133
  • Ray Leonardini, “Living a Contemplative Life” from Finding God Within: Contemplative Prayer for Prisoners (Brooklyn, NY: Lantern Books, 2016), 41-61. ISBN: 1590-56551-7

Old Testament

Required texts:

  • Bible (NAB, RSV, or NRSV translation)
  • Carvalho, Corrine. Encountering Ancient Voices: A Guide to Reading the Old Testament. 2nd ed. Winona, MN: Anselm Academic, 2010

Foundations of Theology

Required texts:

  • An Introduction to Theology in Global Perspective by Stephen B. Bevans.  (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2009)  ISBN 978-1-57075-852-2
  • Vatican II, Dei Verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Revelation). Available online
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church:  Part I, Section I  (numbers 26 – 184)
  • Confraternity for the Doctrine of the Faith: “Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian.”
  • International Theological Commission.  “Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria.”  Origins 41 no 40 (March 15, 2012)


Ministry of Deacon:

Required texts:

  • Keating, James, editor.  The Deacon Reader.  New York:  Paulist Press, 2006
  • Pope Benedict XVI.  Deus Caritas Est.  2005. en/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20051225_deus-caritas-est.html
  • Pope Francis.  Evangelii Gaudium.  2013. exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

Recommended Texts:

  • Ditewig, William.  To Be and To Serve:  The Ministerial Identity of the Deacon.  St. Meinrad, IN:  Abbey Press Publications, 2015
  • Henderson, Silas, editor.  Serving with Joy:  Lessons from Pope Francis for Catholic Deacons Today.  St. Meinrad, IN:  Abbey Press Publications, 2016

Synoptic Gospels and Acts:

Required texts:

  • Pheme Perkins, Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels, ISBN: 0802865534
  • American Bible Society, Synopsis of the Four Gospels (RSV), ISBN: 158519420
  • + a Study Bible


Required texts:

  • Howard Marshall, et al, Exploring the New Testament II: Letters and Revelation, ISBN: 0830825584
  • + a Study Bible

Johannine Literature:

Required texts:

  • The Bible. English Text (NAB, RSV or NRSV).
  • Brown, Sherri and Francis J. Moloney, SDB. Interpreting the Gospels and Letters of John: An Introduction, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-0-80287-338-5
  • Craig R. Koester. Revelation and the End of All Things. 2nd Eerdmans, 2018. ISBN-13: 978-0-8028-7578-1

Intro to Liturgy:

Required texts:

  • Dalmais, I. H., Gy, P. M, Jounel, P. and Martimort, A. G. The Church at Prayer: An Introduction to the Liturgy. Volume I: Principles of the Liturgy (1986). (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press)
  • The Liturgy Documents: Essential Documents for Parish Worship. Vol. 1. Fifth Edition. Liturgy Training Publications. (2012)

Additional recommended reading:

  • General Instructions of the Roman Missal (2003)  (Washington, DC: USCCB)
  • Instruction on the Eucharist: (Redemptionis Sacramentum) (2004).  Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (Washington, DC:  USCCB)
  • Johnson, L.  The Mystery of FaithA Study of the Structural Elements of the Order of the Mass.  New Edition for the Roman Missal, Third Edition (2011).  (Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions [FDLC] in cooperation with the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy)
  • Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  The Spirit of the Liturgy (2000).  . John Saward, translator.  (San Francisco: Ignatius Press)
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1994). (Liguori:  Liguori Publications).  Paragraphs: 1066-1112, 1135-1209
  • The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. (Sacrosanctum Concilium) Vatican Council II:  The Conciliar and Postconciliar Documents (Volume I, 1992).  Austin Lannery, General Editor.  (Collegeville:  The Liturgical Press). pp. 1-282.


Required texts:

  • Dulles, Avery R.  Models of the Church, expanded edition.  New York:  Doubleday, 2002.  ISBN:  978-0-385-13368-5.
  • Sullivan, Frances A.  The Church We Believe In:  One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.  New York:  Paulist Press, 1988.  ISBN:  0-8091-3039-4


Required texts:

  • The Rites, Volume One. Pueblo Publishing Company, 1990, 1118 pages. ISBN: 0-8146-6015-0
    Note: The new Order of Celebrating Matrimony (OCM) and the Rites of Ordination are not included in this collection. While PDFs of these rites will be posted on the class webpage, it is recommended that you purchase a copy of the OCM for yourself; this is a ritual book that you will use after ordination
  • Donnelly, Doris, ed. Sacraments and Justice. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2014. ISBN: 978-0-8146-8072-8
  • Mick, Lawrence E. Understanding the Sacraments Today, revised edition. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2006. ISBN: 978-0-8146-2925-3

Additional recommended texts (open in expanded PDF)

Pastoral Care & Counseling:

Required texts:

  • Eugene C. Kennedy and Sarah Charles, On Becoming a Counselor 4th ed. (Paulist Press 2017)
  • James Dittes, Pastoral Counseling: The Basics (Westminster John Knox, 1999)
  • Mark Kipfmueller, Pastoral Counseling Handbook (CreateSpace 2014)
  • David G. Benner Strategic Pastoral Counseling 2nd ed. Baker Academic (2003)

Additional recommended reading:

  • Richard Dayringer The Heart of Pastoral Counselling: Healing Through Relationship (1998)
  • Darrel Smith Integrative Therapy: a comprehensive approach to the methods and Principles of Counselling and Psychotherapy (1990)
  • Malony Newton, The Psychology of Religion for Ministry (1995)
  • Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger Theology and Pastoral Counselling: A New Interdisciplinary Approach (1995)
  • David Capps Agents of Hope: (1995)
  • David Capps Clinical Handbook of Pastoral Psychology (1985)
  • James Hightower Caring for People from Birth to Death (1999)
  • Gerard Egan The Skilled Helper 1998)
  • Joseph Ciarrocchi , A Minister’s Handbook of Mental Disorders  1993)
  • Gary Collins Christian Counselling: A Comprehensive Guide (1988)
  • William Miller and Kathleen Jackson Practical Psychology for Pastors (1995)
  • Books on Communication skills:
    • Counselling and Therapy Skills by David Martin
    • The Skilled Helper by Gerald Egan
    • Connecting by Berko, Rosenfeld and Samovar
    • The Helping Relationship by Laurence Brammer
  • Selected Journals:
    • Abstracts in Research in Pastoral Care and Counselling
    • American Journal of Pastoral Counselling
    • Journal of Ministry in Addictions and Recovery
    • Journal of Pastoral care
    • Journal of Pastoral Practice
    • Journal of Pastoral Psychotherapy
    • Journal of Pastoral Theology
    • Journal of Psychology and Christianity
    • Journal of Psychology and Theology