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Residential Ministry

2020–21 Campus Ministry Interns (8), accompanied by program directors, gathered outdoors in summer.

The Center for Residential Ministry (CRM) within Campus Ministry works with Residence Life to foster community and create opportunities for personal and spiritual growth within the residence halls.

Just as Augustine celebrated friendship as a place to encounter God, our Graduate Resident Ministers (GRMs) and Peer Ministers help to create an atmosphere that supports students in building friendships with their peers and growing in their relationships with God.

GRMs live and work in first-year halls, and Peer Ministers in upperclass halls. 

Graduate Resident Ministers (GRMs) live in first-year residence halls and collaborate with Residence Life and Campus Ministry staff to develop opportunities for students to grow holistically through social gatherings, retreats, service, social justice work, liturgies and shared reflection.

Graduate Resident Ministry is a halftime, residential ministry position that fulfills the supervised ministry practicum requirements of the MA in Ministry and Theology or the Certificate in Pastoral Ministry within the Department of Theology and Religious Studies.

General Requirements

If admitted into the master’s program in Theology, GRMs must enroll in the MA in Ministry and Theology degree program and maintain good academic standing

If admitted into a graduate program in another department, must enroll in the Certificate in Pastoral Ministry within the Theology Department

Live in a first-year residence hall

Devote 20 hours per week to ministerial roles over two academic years

Participate in Campus Ministry staff meetings, practicum and program supervision, and supervision with the Counseling Center

Work collaboratively with Residence Life staff and attend area and building meetings as needed

Ministerial Requirements

Engage in an ongoing process of discernment of your gifts and vocation with the support of the Campus Ministry staff and peers

Advise a Service and Justice (Alternative Break) Experience during three out of four semesters of the program

Plan and implement First Year Escape Retreats with undergrad leaders and the Campus Minister for Retreats

Work with residence hall staff to foster community within the residence halls, possibly by creating and facilitating a weekly sharing group

Encourage students to accompany you to Campus Ministry events and programs as appropriate

Support University-wide liturgies and other large Campus Ministry events as needed

With the help of the program director, seek out a ministerial placement within the Office for Mission & Ministry to develop further your ministerial skills and discern your vocational path

Eligible candidates for the Graduate Resident Ministry Program will have the following:

An undergraduate degree (3.0 min GPA) with at least 15 credits in Theology, Philosophy and/or another discipline in the Humanities

Minimum of one year of post undergraduate work/service experience (strongly preferred, but not required)

Admission into a graduate degree program at Villanova; preference is given to applicants to the MA in Ministry and Theology Program; applicants to other graduate programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will be considered on an individual basis

A proficiency in articulating their desire to grow in a ministerial identity

The desire and competency to live as a minister in an undergraduate residence hall and to work with first-year students

Active participation in a faith tradition and/or spirituality

Note. Our program is best suited to support and prepare for professional ministry graduate students who identify as Catholic. However, students who belong to other Christian churches or faith traditions are most welcome to apply if they believe that our program will advance them on their vocational path. Some flexibility in course requirements in the Theology program can be expected for non-Catholic students. Please reach out with questions or concerns if you wonder whether our program might be right for you.

We provide personal, spiritual and professional support for our GRMs within and outside of Campus Ministry. These forms of support include

Biweekly supervision with the program director to help balance roles, time management, and personal and professional needs

Regular ministry practicum supervision to support the development of each person’s ministerial identity

Academic advisement with the Graduate Program Director in the Theology Department

Group meetings with a counselor in the University Counseling Center to discuss specific student needs

Established Campus Ministry partnerships with the Office of Intercultural Affairs; the Africana Studies Program; the Office of Health Promotion; the Center for Access, Success, and Achievement; Learning Support Services; and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, among others that connect GRMs with others who share their identities and interests to supplement their involvement on campus

Support for a finding a spiritual director on or off campus

Support for finding a personal counselor on or off campus

Villanova University provides the following to each GRM:

Full tuition remission for all coursework (48 graduate credits) in fulfillment of the MA in Ministry and Theology. (For GRMs in a degree program other than Theology, the GRM Program will only cover tuition for a maximum of 48 graduate credits, 24 of which must be in fulfillment of the Certificate in Pastoral Ministry)

Room and board for a total of 4 (Fall and Spring) semesters

Room for 1 or 2 summer semesters for GRMs who elect to take courses during the summer before Year 1 or between Years 1 and 2. (Taking at least 1 summer course is strongly encouraged to lighten the academic load during the final semesters)

An annual stipend (approximately $12,000) to cover the cost of books and living expenses. The total value of the tuition, room and board, and stipend portions of the Graduate Resident Ministry Program for 2 years is over $90,000

One hundred percent of our graduates have found employment in ministry or enrollment in further graduate study within 6 months of graduation. Ministers who have graduated from our program are employed in a wide range of positions, including

Campus ministry at a college or university

High school teaching and/or ministry

Hospital chaplaincy or CPE program

Parish ministry

Coordination or administration within a postgrad volunteer program

Other not-for-profit organizations (religiously affiliated and secular)

Other possible pathways include

Youth Director/Pastor

Protestant, Ecumenical or Interfaith Chaplain in educational or healthcare institution

The supervised ministry practicum required for both the MA in Ministry and Theology and the Certificate in Pastoral Ministry can be pursued along two tracks:.

The first track consists of the Graduate Resident Ministry Program involving on-campus residential ministry. It is reserved for students offered GRM positions. GRMs also devote some of their 20 hours/week of ministry to a specialized ministry placement each semester.

The second track consists of a supervised ministry field placement, which does not require living on campus. Ministry students who will not be GRMs can receive a nonresidential ministerial placement within Campus Ministry or be given a placement at a ministry site outside of Villanova to fulfill the practicum component.

Supervised practicum placements on campus can include, but are not limited to, the following:

Interfaith and Ecumenical Outreach

Hispanic Outreach


Peer Ministry

Local Service and Immersions

Pastoral Music


Sports and Spirituality

Peace and Justice Education

Campus Partnership with Catholic Relief Services

Health Promotion

The field placement supervisors in the Center for Residential Ministry (CRM) will help students establish their practicum placements.

If a student is already engaged in professional ministry (whether full-time or part-time), CRM may allow that ministry to serve as the student's practicum placement if a qualified site supervisor can be identified.

CRM will work with the ministry student and ministry site to develop a clear agreement about the student's responsibilities and learning objectives.

Applications for admission into the Graduate Resident Ministry Program in the Fall of 2024 will be accepted starting August 1, 2023. The priority application deadline is February 1, 2024. After February 1, applications will be considered on a rolling basis as space permits.

Applicants begin by completing the Graduate Liberal Arts and Sciences application and selecting either the MA in Ministry and Theology or the Certificate in Pastoral Ministry as their primary or secondary discipline of study.

Applicants must be accepted into a master’s degree program at Villanova before being considered for the GRM Program. Once applicants are admitted into their academic degree program, they will automatically be entered into the review process for the GRM Program if interest for this program has been indicated in their application.

All application and admission information for the MA in Ministry and Theology (48 credits) and the Certificate in Pastoral Ministry (24 credits) can be found in the Graduate Programs in Theology.

If you are applying to Campus Ministry’s GRM Program as an applicant to a degree program in another department, then you need to follow the application and admissions requirements for that department. You must also select the Certificate in Pastoral Ministry as a "secondary discipline" on the Graduate Liberal Arts and Sciences application.

All applicants to either the MA or Certificate programs in ministry will have a preliminary video interview on a rolling basis. Admission decisions will also be made on a rolling basis. Qualified applicants who have completed their application by the February 1 priority deadline will be invited to have a second, lengthier video interview for consideration for the GRM Program (and other funding opportunities) by the end of February. Initial offers will be made in early March. Applications for funded positions will continue to be considered until all positions are filled.


In honor of the ongoing ministry of Sister Cora Marie Billings, RSM, '67 in and around Philadelphia and across the US, we seek a lay Black Catholic, admitted to a graduate program in Theology, who wants to continue Sister Cora Marie’s vocation of extraordinary service to the Catholic Church and the People of God. 

This Graduate Resident Minister should exemplify Sister Cora Marie’s commitment to anti-racism within the Church, as well as her exceptional example of lay leadership.

It is the hope of Sister Cora Marie, a Villanova alumna, that the person who fills this funded position will help advance the University's mission.

"When we as Villanovans live the motto ‘Truth, Unity, Love,’ we embrace and enhance the opportunities to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others," she says. "This also allows us to celebrate the diversity and equity of the Body of Christ."

Note: This position has the same roles, responsibilities, compensation and application process as the other Graduate Resident Ministers described above, including living in a FIrst-Year residence hall. To apply for the Sr. Cora Marie Billings position please speak to your interest and qualifications in your Pastoral Ministry Statement.

Firsts in Philadelphia

Sister Cora Marie Billings is originally from Philadelphia and maintains deep ties to the area. A West Philadelphia Catholic Girls’ High School alumna, Sister Cora Marie earned a BA in 1967—and an honorary doctorate in 2019—from Villanova.

She was the first Black woman to enter the Sisters of Mercy’s Mid-Atlantic community, joining the religious order in 1956. She went on to hold positions at archdiocesan elementary and high schools, becoming one of the first African American sisters to teach in a Catholic secondary school in Philadelphia. 

She also helped to found (as did Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA), the National Black Sisters’ Conference in 1968.

Firsts in Richmond

After moving to Richmond in 1981, Sister Cora Marie was the first African American sister to work as a campus minister at Virginia State University. She also was the director of the diocese’s Office for Black Catholics for 25 years. 

Beginning in 1990, she served as the pastoral coordinator of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church for 14 years—the first Black woman in the country to lead a Catholic parish. For a time, she also supervised the lay leaders of parishes in the Diocese of Richmond. (Because of her work at St. Elizabeth, she was once a correct answer on Jeopardy!.) She served as the deputy director for Virginia’s Human Rights Council from 2007 to 2010.  

Family Ties

Sister Cora Marie’s mother, Mrs. Ethel Lee Billings, was active in the Philadelphia chapter of the Federated Colored Catholics in the 1930s. Through that work, Mrs. Billings (then, Miss Lee) advocated for a young West Catholic graduate, James Richardson, who had been denied admission to La Salle University because of his race. Mr. Richardson eventually enrolled at Villanova and graduated in 1941.

Sister Cora Marie’s grandfather, John A. Lee Sr., was a graduate of Roman Catholic High School, where he played basketball. When other high schools in the Catholic League refused to play against Roman if John Lee remained on the team, his teammates agreed that if John Lee couldn’t play, they wouldn’t play—even if it meant forfeiting every game. The Catholic League relented and compelled the schools to play against Roman. 

Sister Cora Marie had two aunts who joined the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore.  

Peer ministers are a tight-knit community of undergraduate students who provide a ministerial presence in residence halls and throughout campus while participating in ongoing personal and communal spiritual formation that is animated by the spirituality of St. Augustine and rooted in the Gospel. They offer 1:1 accompaniment; opportunities for community building and faith sharing; and they serve as a connection between students and the wealth of resources and opportunities for both personal and spiritual growth on campus. Peer Ministers accompany students from all backgrounds and faiths. They are grounded in joy and a firm belief that every student at Villanova should feel welcome, known and loved.

The Peer Ministry program also facilitates a variety of events and programs on campus throughout each semester including Storytelling Events, Get Real Small Groups and Prayer Opportunities.

During the 2023-2024 academic year, Peer Ministers will serve first-year residence halls on campus. If you are interested in becoming a Peer Minister or learning more about the program please check out our page or email Meghan Dietzler, Associate Director of Peer Ministry.

Group of students laughing

Contact Us

Program Director

John P. Edwards, PhD
[610] 519-3507
St. Mary Hall 109-15

Associate Director

Rev. Joseph Calderone, OSA, EdD
[610] 519-7477
St.Mary Hall 109-15

Associate Director for Peer Ministry

Meghan Dietzler
[610] 519-5178
St. Mary Hall 109-14