The Alphonsian Academy is born...
In 1871, shortly after St. Alphonsus Liguori was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church, the
Redemptorists began making plans for the establishment of an institute dedicated to teaching and
promoting moral theology in the spirit of Saint Alphonsus. The Redemptorist General Chapter of
1894 approved a decree that stated:
"It is the express wish of the Chapter that, as soon as possible, a general higher institute of
learning be set up, to which shall come from the various provinces, one or other young father
who has already completed his studies. Here, under the guidance of expert members of the
Congregation, they are to receive a fuller training in the philosophical and theological teachings
that are proper to Saint Alphonsus and thereby be prepared in their turn to teach them to others."
(In other words, "we are going to Teach the Teachers!")
The Alphonsian Academy (known then as the Collegio Sant' Alfonso) opened its doors iwth six professors and twenty-six student priests for the academic year of 1910-1911. The faculty offered courses in Dogmatic and Moral Theology, as well as Canon Law, Philosophy and Hebrew. It looked as though the Redemptorist dream of an Alphonsian Moral Institute was well on its way to becoming a reality. Then came World War I and the fledgling institute was forced to close its doors. An effort at re-establishing the Academy was once again thwarted by the traumatic onset of World War II.
The post-war years were a time of re-organization and growth for the Institute, culminating on March 25, 1957, when the Academy was formally recognized by the Vatican Congregation for Religious. The Alphonsian Academy, now authorized to accept non-Redemptorist as well as Redemptorist students, opened its inaugural classes the following October with twenty students - eight of whom were Redemptorists - and a faculty of fourteen professors.
The next years were ones of steady growth and were highlighted by two significant events. On June 28, 1958, the Alphonsian Academy was given Vatican authorization to confer a post-graduate degree in Moral and Pastoral Theology. This was followed on August 2, 1960 (the feast day of St. Alphonsus) by full incorporation of the Alphonsian Academy into the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Lateran University, allowing it to grant the Doctor of Theology specializing in Moral Sciences degree.
The Academy Today...
Situated near the center of Rome - a ten-minute walk from
the Coliseum - the Alphonsianum (as the Academy is known in
Rome) is the academic home for post-graduate students and
professors from all over the world.
Our students are priests, lay men and women, and other
religious pursuing intense training and guidance in the area of
Moral Theology. Upon successful completion of the first cycle, the
student is awarded a License in Theology with a specialization in
the Moral Sciences. The second cycle involves a profound period
of study, emphasizing personal research under the guidance of
two professors. After successfully defending his/her disseration
before a board of professors, the student is awarded a Doctorate
in Moral Theology.
Our faculty is composed of both permanent and visiting
professors - experts in areas such as Systematic Moral Theology,
Sacred Scripture, Pastoral Theology, Social Anthropology, Scientific
Methodology, and a host of others. They not only have influence
over our students, but the Universal Church as well. Alphonsian professors were instrumental in crafting some of the key documents of the Second Vatican Council. Some were also invited to lead the spiritual exercises for His Holiness Pope Paul VI. All of this knowledge comes together at the Academy for the single purpose of studying the moral issues of the present day and providing the best possible education in moral theology for our students.
Always faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, the Academy pursues its educational mission in the light of the best studies of Sacred Scripture and the latest scientific developments.
The dedication, effort and sacrifices of the Redemptorist Congregation, the faculty and the students, which have gone into making the Alphonsian Academy what it is today have not gone unrewarded. It is with a sense of thankful pride and satisfaction that the Alphonsian family can point to over 100 former students who have been raised to the Episcopacy and four who have been elevated to the College of Cardinals.
Academy graduates serve in dioceses and mission fields throughout the world. The ministry of the Redemptorist Congregation through the Alphonsian Academy in a very tangible way "goes out to all the world to teach the Good News" (Matthew 28:19) in the person of literally thousands of alumni who are pastors, teachers, missionaries and lay men and women working in secular professional fields as well as the religious arena. With the help of many people, the Alphonsian Academy will continue the work begun long ago by Alphonsus Liguori:
To Teach The Teachers.