Catholic Social Teaching

Course Description

This pastoral theology course was created for STEP by William J. Appleby Purcell, the Associate Director for Catholic Social Tradition and Practice at the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, and the former Director of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Peace and Justice Office. The course serves as an introduction to basic concepts and methods necessary in social ministry of the Church today. Students are invited to draw from documents issued by the Vatican and the U.S. Bishops for the sake of analyzing concrete social problems affecting their local communities. By the end of the course participants will be able to identify basic principles of Catholic Social Teaching, relate these principles to their parish and local communities, identify institutions that address social problems, and differentiate between social action and direct service.

Course Content

Unit 1

  1. Introduction to Social Ministry and Catholic Social Teaching

Unit 2

  1. Putting the Teaching to Practice: The Principles of Catholic Social Teaching

Unit 3

  1. Social Analysis: Putting Catholic Social Teaching to Work

Unit 4

  1. Political Responsibility: Faithful Citizenship

Unit 5

  1. Addressing Global Poverty

Course Format

  • Six weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • Lectures delivered via an online presentation with audio narration.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic, internet links provided for all readings.
  • Weekly written assignments (150-200 words) required.
  • Weekly facilitator moderated chat sessions with students in course.

Required Texts

  • All course materials available online in the course.

Participation Requirements

  • Weekly reading or viewing of lecture texts.
  • Participation in class discussion using discussion area (minimum 2 comments, questions or responses weekly.)
  • Weekly written assignment (150-200 words.)
  • Weekly chat session with other students in course (attend minimum of 3 during course.)
  • Course evaluation.

Time Expectations

4 to 6 hours a week (time varies from student to student depending on your learning style and schedule.)

Course Certificate

A Certificate of Completion awarding 30 Contact Hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.

Meet the Developer

Mr. William J. Appleby Purcell, M.Div.

Mr. William J. Appleby Purcell, M.Div.

Bill Purcell is the Associate Director for the Catholic Social Tradition and Practice at the Center for Social Concerns, as well as an Assistant Professional Specialist for the Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame. For 6 years Bill was the Director of the Office for Peace and Justice at the Archdiocese of Chicago. Bill has received the Nathan Jones Award from the Archdiocese for his dedicated service in the African-American community. He has also received the St. Francis and St. Clare Award from the University of St. Francis in Joliet for his work for justice. Before going to Chicago in 1999, he spent three years as the Education Specialist for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development at the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops in Washington, D.C. Bill received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Divinity at the University of Notre Dame. He has worked for the Office for Social Development at the Archdiocese of Washington, directed a training center for United Way, and he has been a community organizer. Bill has been published numerous times, and is on various local and national committees for social justice issues. Bill is married to Angie, and they have three children, John, Joseph, and Olivia.