Forming Lay Ecclesial Ministers and Leaders

Michel Therrien graduated from the ITI in 2003 with a Licentiate in Sacred Theology. He completed his doctorate in Fundamental Moral Theology at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland in 2007. He taught at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania from 2005–2012, serving as Academic Dean from 2008–2012. From 2012–2014, he taught at the Augustine Institute in Denver, CO. Returning to the Diocese of Pittsburgh, he worked as the Secretary for Evangelization and Catholic Education and then was appointed in 2016 to create and direct the Institute for Pastoral Leadership.

Today Michel Therrien serves as the President of the Institute for Pastoral Leadership in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Institute was launched in October 2017 to provide a certification program to form lay leaders serving in parish ministry. Through its leadership development and evangelization certification program, the Institute forms lay ecclesial ministers across all four areas of formation: intellectual, human, spiritual, and pastoral. The program supports the professional development of lay ecclesial ministers in the principles and practices of effective leadership, ministry, and evangelization for the diocese. 

Michel’s memories of his time spent at the ITI:

“The ITI taught me how to practice theology with the mind of the Church. I cannot express the blessing and the benefit my ITI education has been to me throughout my professional life since graduation. The extensive and deep study of the primary sources of the Catholic theological tradition, combined with the seminar method, formed intellectual habits that have served me well in a variety of different roles and ecclesial settings. Above all, it gave me clarity of thought and expression, which has enhanced my teaching abilities and helped me hand on to my students what I received at the ITI.

My wife Lynn and I were just beginning our family during my studies in Gaming.[1] We came to Austria with two little children and gave birth to our third child, Josef, in Scheibbs - a truly memorable experience! Josef is now 17 years old - I cannot believe it has been that long! The setting and the community life of the ITI was an almost fairy tale experience for our family. The Kartause was so conducive to study, contemplation and intimate prayer with God. The opportunity to live in Europe and to travel throughout the time of my studies provided some of the richest memories of our family life.  Because of the flexibility of the program, I was able to focus my licentiate studies almost entirely on Catholic Social teaching, for which I have always had a deep passion. Some of my most memorable learning experiences were the one-on-one tutorials with professors Jay Thomson and Fr. John Saward. And who could forget the seminar on the Eschman-DeKonick "common good" debate? I still teach everything I learned at the ITI, and I am continually surprised by how deeply embedded what I learned at ITI is in my mind and heart. The intellectual mentorship of the faculty in the writings and thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, in particular, is the most important contribution the ITI made to my intellectual formation. Especially significant were the unforgettable seminars with Dr. Waldstein on the Trinity and the Gospel of John. Also memorable were Latin and Greek studies with Mr. Gotia and Don Reto Nay.  The opportunity to study in such a culturally and liturgically diverse community was life-changing.”

[1] In 2009 the ITI campus was moved from Gaming to Trumau, near Vienna.