Since the Second Vatican Council (1961–65), Roman Catholic faculty and students have played an important role at YDS. Because the majority of the students are members of the laity who cannot at the present time become candidates for ordination in the Catholic Church, no formal programs for priestly formation currently exist at YDS. However, many Catholic students at YDS are enrolled in the M.Div. program and are preparing to serve as lay ecclesial ministers in the Catholic Church. Students enrolled in the M.A.R. and S.T.M. programs are preparing for service in educational and social service environments.
In order to provide a formative experience for all these students, the YDS Catholic community has been established as an informal body of students, staff, and faculty who gather throughout the academic year for worship, meals, and lectures. Mass is celebrated regularly on the YDS campus, followed by refreshments and socializing with fellow students and Catholic members of the faculty and staff. Throughout the year different activities, such as small prayer groups or volunteer groups committed to working in underprivileged areas of New Haven, develop according to the interests and needs of the students. Opportunities for supervised ministry and formation experience are also available through the St. Thomas More Catholic Chaplaincy at Yale. The variety of denominations and traditions represented at YDS allows students a rich opportunity to engage in ecumenical dialogue and worship in addition to their studies. The Annand Program of Berkeley Divinity School provides occasions for spiritual direction in which Roman Catholics regularly participate. Each of the programs in which the Catholic community engages is intended to deepen the students’ awareness of the ways in which they can serve the church through education, parish ministry, and pastoral care, while also cultivating friendships and support among themselves and the broader YDS community.