Frequently Asked Questions

TOPICS

  1. Benefits of attending the Hartford Catholic Biblical School and St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in Biblical Studies (referred to collectively as “CBS”)
  2. How the Catholic Biblical School Works
  3. Costs Involved
  4. Enrolling in the Biblical School
  5. Academic Requirements
  6. Biblical School Certificates
  7. School and Faculty Credentials
  8. Required Textbooks

Benefits of attending the Hartford Catholic Biblical School or St. Thomas Certificate in Biblical Studies (referred to collectively as “CBS”)

What will I get out of enrolling in CBS?

CBS will help you read and understand the Bible, teaching you skills and giving you practice in interpreting and praying with the Bible. These practices will enrich your faith not for a day or a weekend, but for a lifetime. The nationally-acclaimed Catholic Biblical School curriculum focuses on balancing faith formation, knowledge, and Bible study and prayer skills. You will increase your understanding of Christ and will engage the Bible within its cultural and literary context, enabling you better to live and witness to your Catholic faith today. Our more than 500 graduates tell us that because of their studies in CBS they get more out of the Liturgy of the Word at mass and their faith is deeply enriched by reading and understanding the Bible. Most Rev. Leonard P. Blair, Archbishop of Hartford, recommends the Catholic Biblical School, saying that the program “provides adults the opportunity to encounter the Word of God in prayerful, in-depth and faithful ways that prepare them to become evangelizing leaders in their faith communities.”

May I take CBS purely for my own faith enrichment?

Most students undertake the Catholic Biblical School for their own faith enrichment. CBS is intended for anyone who wishes to engage the Bible from a Catholic perspective. The educational components (aka, “requirements”) of the program work together to help you achieve your faith goals and enrich your faith through deeper understanding and devotion. No one is required to take the program for college credit, although this opportunity is available.

Can I receive college credit for my CBS work?

St. Thomas Seminary is licensed by the State of Connecticut Department of Higher Education to offer 4.5 undergraduate credits for each year-long course of study in CBS (CBS 100, 200, 300 and 400). Students who register as “for-credit” students and who fulfill all the requirements of the accredited program will acquire 18 undergraduate credits and will receive the St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in Biblical Studies.

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How the Catholic Biblical School Works

Where are classes held?

We offer a variety of locations throughout the Archdiocese of Hartford (Hartford, New Haven and Litchfield Counties). Locations rotate annually. In recent years, classes have been held in the Connecticut towns of Bloomfield, Hamden, Manchester, North Haven, Plantsville, Southbury, Waterbury and West Hartford. Check our class list at http://www.CatholicEdAOHCT.org for current information. New locations for each fall will be announced in May of each year.

How many class meetings are there every year?

Thirty classes, organized into three units that are each ten weeks in length. Classes usually begin in September, the first full (5-day) week after Labor Day. Click here to consult the Catholic Biblical School online for details.

How much time will I spend in class each week?

Each CBS class meets once a week for two hours each week. In addition, a significant portion of your learning will take place at home, completing “homework” (reading, writing, map work).

What are CBS classes like?

Every class includes time for prayer, small group discussion with other adult learners, and information presented by the instructor. Students will be responsible for leading prayer at least once per year and for arranging hospitality, if desired. (Coffee and snacks are optional; each section makes its own choices about how to handle hospitality.

What is the average time spent on homework each week?

Every student brings different goals and abilities to the CBS programs, and this affects how much time they choose to spend on homework assignments. Some students spend as little as 2-3 hours per week on homework; most students spend much more. CBS students report, on average spending 5-7 hours per week on homework. Students enrolled in the accredited St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in Biblical Studies program usually spend more time on the coursework (perhaps 10 hours per week, on average) than their counterparts in the Catholic Biblical School because the St. Thomas Seminary program requires more coursework and involves higher academic standards. Your individual learning goals and how you enroll in CBS (whether for credit or not) will determine how much time you choose to spend preparing for class.

Will there be tests?

"Tests" in the CBS programs are also known as "memory exercises." There are three of these per year. The purpose of these exercises is to help you retain in your memory more of the material covered. You don’t need to pass any tests to continue forward in the Biblical School, but you will only achieve certificates (see below, 6. Certificates Awarded) if you successfully complete all course requirements (including passing memory exercises). “Memory exercises” in the Catholic Biblical School are graded on a Pass/Fail basis, with 60% required to pass. It is rare for a student not to pass the tests, and “not for credit” students are allowed to take the exact same test as often as needed to pass. Other standards, though, apply to students taking courses for college credit. A grade of “C” or better (73%) is required to progress toward the St. Thomas Seminary Certificate of Biblical Studies. (See the St. Thomas Seminary catalogue online for details.)

What is a “memory exercise”?

“Memory exercises” are sometimes called “tests” or “non-tests” in the CBS programs. They occur three times per year at the end of each ten-week unit of study. The third memory exercise is “cumulative,” meaning that it may include material from all three units of study.

What happens if I fail a “memory exercise” (aka, test)?

It is rare for a student not to pass a “memory exercise.” Catholic Biblical School students who do not pass the “test” the first time are encouraged to take the exact same test as often as needed to pass. Other standards apply for students taking courses for college credit, through the St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in Biblical Studies. (See the St. Thomas Seminary catalogue online for details.)

Do you assign grades in the CBS programs?

For students who are attending “not for credit”:

  1. “Memory
    exercises” in the Catholic Biblical School are graded on a Pass/Fail basis, with 60% required to pass.
  2. Homework assignments are marked “complete” or “incomplete” and are not assigned grades. For students enrolled in the St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in Biblical Studies program, all assignments are graded on a full grading scale, A to F. More stringent standards apply for students taking courses for college credit. (See the St. Thomas Seminary catalogue online for details.)

Will I have to write papers in the Catholic Biblical School?

On the one hand, assignments and “memory exercises” for non-credit students in the Catholic Biblical School do not take the form of standard college “papers.” All written assignments are organized in a question-and-answer format. Weekly homework assignments typically feature six open-ended questions.
On the other hand, students taking the St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in Biblical Studies courses for college credit must complete, in addition to weekly homework assignments, 1-5 projects (which often involve writing a brief paper, 2-3 double-spaced pages in length). A student who completes 1-2 papers, is not eligible for a grade higher than a C in the course. A student who completes 3-4 papers, is not eligible for a grade higher than a B in the course. Students who complete 5 papers are eligible for an A.
Eligibility does not guarantee the desired grade. Grades on all assignments will determine final grades, as indicated in the St. Thomas Seminary catalogue and course Course Details. (View course details)

Do I need to commit to all four years of the program when I first enroll?

We encourage students who enroll in the Biblical School to take all four years of the program; we ask students to commit to at least the first two years—Basic Certificate level. However, students only enroll for one year (course) at a time. Every year in the spring, students who wish to continue must complete a registration form but do not have to reapply for admission.

Are there scholarships available?

The Sr. Jewel Renna, CND, Scholarship Fund offers partial tuition scholarships (up to half of total tuition). Scholarships are based on financial need. See online applications.

Scholarship Application Deadlines:

  • First-year students need to begin the application process by August 15 each year — but the sooner, the better.
  • Continuing students need to apply for financial aid when they register for classes by June 1 each year.


When do classes meet?

We offer morning and evening classes that meet once a week between mid-September and mid-May each year. See class schedules online.

What are “Scripture Days”?

Twice a year in late summer (August or September) and in Lent, students attend a “Scripture Day.” These weekend programs feature nationally-known Catholic scholars who lead us in study and prayer. Your tuition pays for two “Scripture Days” each year. Scripture Days typically last 4-6 hours on a weekend. Six-hour Scripture Days include lunch and a liturgy. Students who are aiming to achieve certificates (the Archdiocese of Hartford Basic or Advanced Certificates, or the St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in
Biblical Studies) must attend two Scripture Days per year.

What is involved in the Summer Reading Assignment?

Every year (including Year One/CBS 100) begins with a summer reading assignment. This assignment asks students to read a specific book and to answer 6-8 questions about the contents of that book. Assignments are made by June 1 each year.

Do I always have to attend class in the same location?

Students have a “home” class (aka “section”) where they are assigned to a student discussion group for the year. (There are 4-8 students in each group.) Students are, however, free to attend any section in the same curriculum year they’re studying—in any location at any time, with no need to notify anyone.) Classes in each curriculum year are kept “synchronized” so that the same material is being covered each week in the various class locations.

What if I have to miss a class sometime?

Two classes can be missed without consequence in each ten-week class unit, for up to six excused absences per year. If a student misses more than two classes in a single unit, they can make up the missed classes in subsequent years if they wish to progress towards a certificate. Other options can also be explored at the discretion of the Director of the Catholic Biblical School. And remember, students who miss their regularly scheduled classes, can attend another section at another location that same week, in the same curriculum year. If they attend another section, they are not counted absent in their “home” section.

How do I make up missed assignments?

Missed assignments (homework and summer assignments) should be made up in the ten-week class unit in which they were assigned, but with the permission of the instructor can be made up at any time prior to the last class meeting of the year. At the discretion of the instructor, students may request an incomplete grade so as to extend their studies into the summer.

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Costs Involved

How much is the yearly tuition?

Tuition for the current academic year is $350. This represents a significant savings in comparison with other college programs and Catholic Biblical Schools across the country.
Tuition costs cover only about 50% of the cost of your studies. We are grateful to the Archbishop of Hartford and to donations provided by the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal for taking care of all remaining expenses.

When is tuition due?

For first-year students, half the yearly tuition is due upon enrollment as a deposit to hold your place in the CBS program. For returning students, half the yearly tuition is due with your completed registration, by June 1 of each year. All remaining tuition is due by October 1 of each year. Special payment plans are available by arrangement with the CBS Office, and financial aid is available through the Sr. Jewel Renna, CND, Scholarship Fund. Scholarships are based on financial need. View applications online.

What does tuition cover?

  • Thirty weekly classes with an expert instructor
  • Two Scripture Days, including lunch and liturgy
  • All printed materials except books (i.e., class and Scripture Day handouts, memory exercises, calendars, etc.)
  • Receipt of monthly electronic newsletter, Connecting the Vision
  • Subscription to the CBS “Bible Blog” at http://bjdhorehartford.blogspot.com/

Are there other fees?

For students not enrolling for credit, there are no other fees. However, required texts must be purchased independently of tuition payments each year. For students enrolling for credit in the St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in Biblical Studies program, there is an $80 fee each year to cover faculty and administrative expenses involved in creating and maintaining academic records.

Are book costs included in tuition?

No. Books are the only essential materials that are not covered by CBS tuition. Students have access to all CBS texts through the St. Thomas Seminary library. Some used texts may be available for a reduced cost through the Coordinator of the Catholic Biblical School.

What books do I need?

A variety of texts are needed, depending on the course you undertake (CBS 100, 200, 300 or 400). View a complete book list for each curriculum year online.

Where do I purchase books?

Student workbooks must be purchased from the Catholic Biblical School for $16.95. All other texts must be purchased independently online or through an independent book seller. Copies of all texts are also available at the Archbishop O’Brien Library in Bloomfield. Library cards are available free of charge for all Catholic Biblical School students.

How do I purchase books?

First-year workbooks are available for purchase at your enrollment interview. We recommend you bring your checkbook with you for that meeting. We are unable to honor credit cards or take cash. You will receive an up-to-date list of other required textbooks at your interview, which you will need to purchase from an independent bookseller.

How much am I likely to spend on books each year?

Book prices vary and are subject to change. Total cost at list price for all texts, at the time of this posting, ranges from $75 to $125 per course. Some second-hand books may be available at reduced cost from the CBS Coordinator on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Enrolling in the Biblical School

Do I have to be Catholic to enroll?

The Biblical School welcomes students of every faith affiliation and also students who are unaffiliated with any faith community. Methods and instruction follow Catholic guidelines, focusing on the insights and methods of contemporary biblical scholarship as followed by most Christian and Jewish exegetes (scholars). The Catholic Biblical School does not promote a literal (fundamentalist) approach to the Bible. Instructors are Catholic and will address questions of faith and spiritual practice from a Catholic perspective. They will also be happy to engage other faith traditions to the extent they are able. Student workbooks are coordinated with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, so reference to official Catholic teaching is easily accessible.

Are there age guidelines for attending the Biblical School?

Students must have completed High School (or the equivalent) or be at least 18 years old to be eligible for enrollment in the CBS programs. Students in the St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in Biblical Studies program must have completed High School (or the equivalent). Current students in the Biblical School range in age from 18 to 88 years old.

Does enrolling in the Catholic Biblical School make sense if I have no previous knowledge of the Bible?

YES! The Biblical School requires no previous knowledge of the Bible. Students of all backgrounds have found a home at CBS.

Does enrolling in the Catholic Biblical School make sense if I have studied the Bible before?

YES! Some prior knowledge of the Bible will help you advance your level of faith and understanding. Even though you may experience some repetition, especially in the first unit of the first year, most students are able to adjust their self-study (weekly assignments) to their own level, even at the beginning. Students who have done extensive work in the Bible on a college level may want to discuss their situation with the Director of the Catholic Biblical School. Email Catholic.Biblical.School@aohct.org or call 860-242-5573.

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Biblical School Requirements

What are the requirements for advancing toward an Archdiocesan Catholic Biblical School certificate (aka, the Basic and Advanced Certificates)?

For students enrolled on a not-for-credit basis, there are five yearly requirements:

  1. Scripture Day Attendance (2 weekend-day programs, lunch included)
  2. Class attendance (8 out of 10 weekly classes per unit; 24 out of 30 classes per year)
  3. Summer reading assignment completed and turned in to instructor
  4. All written homework completed and turned in to instructor (9 per unit/27 per year)
  5. “Memory exercises” (3 per year) passed with 60% or greater.

What are the requirements for advancing toward the St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in Biblical Studies?
For students enrolled on a for-credit basis through St. Thomas Seminary, there are six yearly requirements:

  1. Scripture Day Attendance (2 weekend-day programs, lunch included)
  2. Class attendance (8 out of 10 weekly classes per unit; 24 out of 30 classes per year)
  3. Summer reading assignment completed at a level of “C” or higher and turned in to instructor
  4. All written homework completed at a C level or higher and turned in to instructor (9 per unit/27 per year)
  5. “Memory exercises” (3 per year) passed with 73% (C) or greater
  6. “Integral Challenge” papers completed at a level of “C” or higher and turned in to instructor

View course details online, or contact the CBS Office at (860) 242-5573 for a current copy of each course syllabus (CBS 100, 200, 300, or 400).

What are the requirements for enrolling in CBS if I don’t want to receive any certificate?

Students can continue to attend all classes and advance through the four-year sequence of courses, whether or not they complete all requirements for certificates—provided they participate fully in class and have paid tuition in full. At the discretion of the Faculty Chair of Biblical Studies, a certificate of attendance (aka a “Participant’s Certificate”) may be awarded.

What if I don’t meet all the requirements toward a certificate?

Not to worry! Many students choose not to advance toward a certificate and yet benefit greatly from their faith journey in the Biblical School. If, at the end of four years of study, you have not completed all course requirements, you may be eligible to graduate with a “Participant’s Certificate” that indicates your active participation in the Catholic Biblical
School. If at any time in the future you wish to re-enroll to complete missed requirements and obtain a certificate, arrangements may be available (sometimes at no additional cost) by contacting the Director of the Catholic Biblical School. Email Catholic.Biblical.School@aohct.org or call 860-242-5573.

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Biblical School Certificates

What is the Basic (two-year) Certificate in Biblical Studies?

Students who receive the Basic Certificate in Biblical Studies have completed the five basic requirements (educational components) in Years One and Two (CBS 100 and 200) in the Catholic Biblical School programs. This involves a careful study of the foundational texts of the Old and New Testaments, engagement with these texts in writing, prayer and discussion under the direction of expert guidance, and the occasional leading of prayer and small group discussion sessions during class. Basic Certificate holders are recognized by the Archdiocese of Hartford as having successfully completed a basic formational program in the understanding and reading of key biblical texts.

What is the Advanced (four-year) Certificate in Biblical Studies?

Students who receive the Advanced Certificate in Biblical Studies have completed all five requirements (educational components) in Years One, Two, Three and Four (CBS 100, 200, 300 and 400) in the Catholic Biblical School program. This involves a careful study of the entire Bible (including the deuterocanonical texts), engagement with these texts in writing, prayer and discussion under the direction of expert guidance, and the occasional leading of prayer and small group discussion sessions during class. Students who complete the Advanced Certificate are encouraged to become leaders in their faith communities, bearing witness to God’s Word in Scripture and having acquired the tools to help others encounter the Word of God in a variety of ways. All Advanced Certificate holders are considered graduates of the Catholic Biblical School and are eligible to participate in all programs offered to CBS graduates, including but not limited to:

  • The CBS graduation ceremony Graduate continuing education opportunities, including Mount Nebo Day at the end of Year 4
  • Graduate retreats and reunion celebrations
  • A free subscription to the Connecting the Vision electronic newsletter for ongoing information about the Catholic Biblical School and other archdiocesan educational offerings
  • A free subscription to the CBS “Bible Blog” at http://bjdhorehartford.blogspot.com/

What is a “Participant’s Certificate” in Biblical Studies?

Students who receive a Participant’s Certificate in Biblical Studies have taken part in four years of study in the Bible and have had the opportunity to study all the books in the Catholic Old and New Testaments, have had the opportunity to engage these texts in writing, prayer and discussion under the direction of expert guidance, and have had the opportunity to lead prayer and small group discussion sessions. They have participated in a significant way in the CBS program, but they have not completed all educational components required to receive the Advanced Certificate in Biblical Studies.

Students who hold a “Participant’s Certificate” may be profoundly knowledgeable about scriptural texts and methods. Some Participant Certificate holders are well-equipped for leadership in their faith communities, bearing witness to the Scriptures and bringing a deep commitment to the Word of God to all that they do. All Participant Certificate holders are considered graduates of the Catholic Biblical School and are eligible to participate in all programs offered to CBS graduates, including but not limited to:

  • The CBS graduation ceremony
  • Graduate continuing education opportunities, including Mount Nebo Day at the end of Year 4
  • Graduate retreats and reunion celebrations
  • A free subscription to Connecting the Vision electronic newsletter for ongoing information about the Catholic Biblical School and other archdiocesan educational offerings
  • A free subscription to the CBS “Bible Blog” at http://bjdhorehartford.blogspot.com/

What is the St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in Biblical Studies?

Students who earn the St. Thomas Seminary (STS) Certificate in Biblical Studies have enrolled through St. Thomas Seminary and have completed all requirements described in the STS course Course Details for CBS 100, CBS 200, CBS 300 and CBS 400. This involves a careful study of the entire Bible (including the deuterocanonical texts), engagement with these texts in writing, prayer and discussion under the direction of expert guidance, and the occasional leading of prayer and small group discussion sessions during class. STS students attend classes with both for-credit and not-for-credit students. The content and scheduling of the courses is the same for all students. For-credit students undertake additional educational components and must meet higher academic standards. Upon completion of each course in the St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in Biblical Studies, students earn 4.5 undergraduate credits (for a four-year total of 18 credits) that may be transferable to other colleges and university programs.
Students who complete the St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in Biblical Studies are encouraged to become leaders in their faith communities, bearing witness to God’s Word in Scripture and having acquired the tools to help others encounter the Word of God in a variety of ways.

All St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in Biblical Studies holders are considered graduates of the Catholic Biblical School and are eligible to participate in all programs offered to CBS graduates, including but not limited to:

  • The CBS graduation ceremony
  • Graduate continuing education opportunities, including Mount Nebo Day at the end of Year 4
  • Graduate retreats and reunion celebrations
  • A free subscription to the Connecting the Vision electronic newsletter for ongoing information about the Catholic Biblical School and other archdiocesan educational offerings
  • A free subscription to the CBS “Bible Blog” at http://bjdhorehartford.blogspot.com/

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The Biblical School’s Authenticity and Teacher Credentials

What authority does the Hartford Catholic Biblical School and the St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in Biblical Studies program have for teaching Scripture?

Archbishop of Hartford Leonard P. Blair, S.T.D. has approved the CBS programs and curriculum for adults in the Archdiocese of Hartford. He confirms that “the Hartford Catholic Biblical School provides adults the opportunity to encounter the Word of God in prayerful, in-depth and faithful ways that prepare them to become evangelizing leaders in their faith communities.” The Catholic Biblical School curriculum, published by Paulist Press, is authorized and is offered for study in dioceses and parishes across the United States, including: Brooklyn, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Hartford, Indianapolis, New York, North Carolina, Omaha, Saint Louis, and San Diego.

St. Thomas Seminary and the St. Thomas Seminary Certificate in Biblical Studies program are accredited by the State of Connecticut Department of Higher Education. All CBS faculty are Catholics in good standing and hold at least one graduate degree in a related theological discipline. Five of our instructors hold doctoral degrees in theological disciplines. The Faculty Chair and Director of the Catholic Biblical School, Barbara Jean Daly Horell, holds two degrees in biblical studies from Harvard and Gonzaga Universities, as well as a post-graduate certificate in spirituality from Boston College. She has more than thirty years of experience teaching Sacred Scripture in Catholic institutions.

Who are the instructors and what are their credentials?

All faculty members of the Hartford Catholic Biblical School hold at least a master’s degree and have done extensive study in the area of Sacred Scripture. Several of our instructors hold doctoral degrees. CBS instructors are all Catholics in good standing, have the ability to connect biblical interpretation with Catholic tradition and doctrine, and have the ability to communicate their expertise with traditional and non-traditional adult learners. View current faculty members online.

What method of study is used in the Biblical School?

The Catholic Biblical School fosters the contemporary Catholic approach to Bible study, which is 1) identical with the methods used by most mainline Christian traditions around the world and is 2) informed by the scholarly Jewish interpretation of the Hebrew Bible (Tanak). CBS does not promote a fundamentalist interpretation of the
Bible. CBS does promote Bible-based evangelization. CBS provides an integrated learning experience involving both the head and the heart. A variety of methods of instruction appropriate to adult learning are used, including:

  • Reading and writing assignments
  • Prayer services and liturgies
  • Small group discussion
  • Input from professionally trained teachers and noted authorities in Scripture
  • Memory exercises” (aka, tests) to consolidate learning

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Catholic Biblical School Texts

Is the cost of books included in tuition?

No. Books are the only essential materials that are not covered by CBS tuition. Access to all Biblical School texts is available in the Archbishop O’Brien Library at St. Thomas Seminary. Library cards are free of charge for Catholic Biblical School students and alumni/ae.

What books do I need?

You can view a list of required texts online. Textbooks must be purchased each year. Students may also check out textbooks from the Archbishop O’Brien Library at St. Thomas Seminary. Library cards are free of charge for all Catholic Biblical School students and alumni/ae. Student workbooks are the only texts that must be purchased through Catholic Biblical School. Contact us at Catholic.Biblical.School@aohct.org or (860) 242-5573.

Where do I purchase books?

Student workbooks for all four years must be purchased from the Catholic Biblical School for $16.95 (checks payable to “OEEC”). Other texts are available online or can be ordered through independent booksellers.

How do I purchase books?

First-year workbooks are available for purchase at your initial interview. We recommend you bring your checkbook with you at that time. We are not able to honor credit cards or take cash. Checks should be made to “OEEC.” Second-year and advanced-year workbooks should be purchased directly from the Catholic Biblical School. All textbooks are available from the Archbishop O’Brien Library at St. Thomas Seminary. Library cards are free of charge for all Catholic Biblical School students and alumni/ae. Other textbooks must be purchased independently, either online or through your local bookseller.

How much am I likely to spend on books each year?

Book prices vary and are subject to change. As of this posting, cost per year ranges from $75 to $125 per year (less online). Some second-hand books may be available at reduced cost through the Catholic Biblical School. Contact the CBS Office to find out what’s available.