Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Philosophy and Theology)

First Supervisor

Rev. Doctor Paul Murray

Second Supervisor

Doctor Renée Köhler-Ryan


St Thomas Aquinas on Affectivity: A Way Forward for Seminary Formation, is a theological argument that St Thomas’ teaching can be applied to the affective formation of men preparing to be Catholic priests. St Thomas’ teaching provides a very helpful understanding of affective maturity and its integral importance for a truly Christian and priestly life in the service of others. It flows from a theological anthropology that recognizes proper affective growth as an integral part of human life and interpersonal relationships. Affective maturity is an essential attribute for the seminarian to acquire because he is preparing to be a priest who has to fulfill his responsibilities to others in a loving, mature and virtuous way. The thesis is divided into three major sections. The first section lays the theological and anthropological foundation for the thesis. Since Pope St John Paul II called for the promotion of affective maturity in seminary formation, the influence of St Thomas’ teaching on St John Paul II’s understanding of affectivity is analyzed. Then, it is argued that St Thomas’ teaching on affectivity in Christ gives a firm foundation for affective formation in the life and example of Christ. Finally, through a discussion of St Thomas’ teaching on the passions such as love, hope and anger, a set of principles is set before the seminarian to reflect upon and articulate his affective experiences so that he may be understood and guided by his formators. The second section argues that St Thomas’ teaching on the Cardinal and Theological virtues can be applied as principles of affective formation. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit are presented respectively as principles of affective development and a pattern by which affective maturity is recognized and assessed. The third section analyzes how St Thomas’ teaching on the capital vices, such as pride and vainglory, can help the seminarian to respond to his affective inordinateness. It also examines how St Thomas’ teaching on infused virtue can be applied as a principle of affective growth to order his desires and affections to the good. As a test case, chastity is examined as a virtue that enables him to properly form his sexuality in relation to others and responsibly love and care for others as a pastor. A significant finding of this thesis is that affective formation needs to be given a proper theological and Christological foundation. Only in this way can the seminarian become a man and a priest who reflects the life of Christ the Good Shepherd to those entrusted to his pastoral care.

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