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Frequently Asked Questions


What Does "Athenaeum" Mean and How Is It Pronounced?

"Athenaeum" was a name in ancient Rome for a place of learning. It is derived from Athena, the goddess of wisdom. It was the name given to the school of higher learning created by Cincinnati's first prelate, Bishop Edward D. Fenwick who founded it in 1829. It included St. Francis Xavier Seminary which later was renamed Mount St. Mary's of the West. The present-day Athenaeum continues the tradition. Athenaeum can be pronounced one of two ways: Athen-EEE-um (Greek), or Athen-AY-um (Latin).



Does the Athenaeum Form Priests?

Yes. The Athenaeum's seminary division - Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the West - prepares men for ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood to serve in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and other dioceses. In addition to the Archdiocese, current seminary enrollment represents the dioceses of Toledo, Ohio; Youngstown, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; Tulsa, Oklahoma; the Fathers of Mercy, Auburn, Kentucky; and the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, Cincinnati.



Does the Athenaeum Form Anyone Besides Priests?

Yes. The Athenaeum also has two other divisions - the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program (LPMP) and the Special Studies Division. Graduate programs of study lead to master's degrees in biblical study, theology, pastoral counseling, and pastoral ministry. The institution also offers a two-year certificate in lay ministry and a pastoral administration program as well as non-degree enrichment studies for those serving in ministry or those who seek to develop their own spirituality. The diaconate formation program (see below) is a part of the Special Studies Division.



How Many Students Study At the Athenaeum?

Current enrollment is 67 seminarians, 23 deacon candidates, and 110 lay students.


Can Anyone Take A Class At the Athenaeum?

Qualified students are invited to enroll in most Athenaeum courses, on an audit or for-credit basis, without having been admitted to a degree program. Such students must give evidence they possess competence to pursue the level of course work required. In the case of graduate courses, this ordinarily means the enrollee must have earned a bachelor's degree. Any prerequisites must be fulfilled for any given course. Persons interested in enrolling in any Athenaeum course(s) should contact the registrar's office at 513-231-2223.



Is the Athenaeum Building and Campus Grounds Open To the Public?

Visitors are welcome to visit the Athenaeum's chapel and library. The library is open to the public during scheduled hours. Visitors should call before arriving. Groups may schedule tours or individuals may visit by calling 513-231-2223. The public also is invited and encouraged to attend scheduled events, such as Athenaeum Chorale performances and public lectures. Other visitors should report to the business office on the first floor before proceeding through the building or onto the grounds.



What Is the Permanent Diaconate Program?

The permanent diaconate is a program for men, to become ordained deacons and serve special functions of ministry. A complete description of the ministry and its requirements can be found on the Athenaeum website's deacon formation page.



Are Athenaeum Faculty Members Available As Speakers?

Many Athenaeum full time and adjunct faculty members and professional staff members belong to the Athenaeum Speakers' Bureau and are listed on the website. They are often requested for lectures and parish talks. The Athenaeum events calendar, found on the website, includes lectures sometimes presented by faculty members. For more information about scheduling a speaker, please call the business office at 513-231-2223.



Is There A Sunday Mass I Can Attend At the Athenaeum?

On Sundays, most of the resident priests of the Athenaeum assist in local parishes. There is no Sunday Mass for the public to attend.



Is the Athenaeum Available For Weddings and Receptions?

No, the Athenaeum's facilities are unavailable for weddings. Wedding pictures may be taken on the grounds with prior permission. Please call the business office at 513-231-2223 to schedule as time for pictures.



How Is the Athenaeum Supported Financially?

The Athenaeum receives funding primarily through the annual appeal from the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, tuition and fees, and the generosity of hundreds of benefactors, For information about the Athenaeum's annual fund and other ways you can help support the Athenaeum mission, please consult the "Support Us" section of the website.

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