Intellectual Formation

“For the salvation of their brothers and sisters, they should seek an ever deeper knowledge of the divine mysteries.” Disciples are learners. The first task of intellectual formation is to acquire a personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the fullness and completion of God’s revelation and the one Teacher.”

(PPF, 137)


The dimension of intellectual formation includes, but is not limited to, the academic formation of a seminarian. Indeed, as the quote above notes, the fundamental task of intellectual formation is to come to know Jesus Christ and not merely about him. Knowledge alone does not lead to salvation.

Therefore, as the PPF notes, “There is a reciprocal relationship between spiritual and intellectual formation. The intellectual life nourishes the spiritual life, but the spiritual also opens vistas of understanding, in accordance with the classical adage credo ut intelligam (”I believe in order to know”) (PPF, 136).

And it has a missionary purpose, aimed toward “a deepened understanding of the mysteries of faith that is pastorally oriented toward effective priestly ministry, especially preaching” (PPF, 138).

The PPF notes that the context of intellectual formation in a College Seminary has a twofold purpose: a grounding in liberal arts and an orientation based in philosophy. “The [seminarians] first pursue the liberal arts, through which they acquire a sense of the great human questions contained in the arts and sciences. They synthesize and organize their study of the liberal arts through the study of philosophy, which also serves as a preparation for the study of theology.

Benchmarks of Intellectual Formation

The following are benchmarks for which a seminarian should strive to provide concrete evidence:

Initial Engagement Stage

(First 1-2 Years at BWS)

Goal: Each Bishop White seminarian will demonstrate that he lives a balanced life of prayer, study, and fraternity, and apostolic charity, with an appropriate docility to formation.    

Discipleship Stage

(Final 2-3 years at BWS)

Goal: Each graduate of Bishop White Seminary will demonstrate that he understands his vocation, has acquired the freedom to embrace it, and, if he is called to the Holy Priesthood, is prepared to begin proximate preparation for Holy Orders.

Norms for Intellectual Formation

In order to enter advanced theology studies, a seminarian must have completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at an accredited university. In the course of his studies, he must complete 30 credits of philosophy, including several specific courses. In addition, a seminarian must have 12 credits of undergraduate theology courses covering the themes contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., including doctrine, sacraments and liturgy, morality, prayer, and Sacred Scripture. These theology courses must be taught by professors who have made a Profession of Faith and an Oath of Fidelity, and have received the mandatum from the local bishop. Finally, seminarians must have studied at least one full year of Latin. These requirements are spelled out in detail in the Program of Priestly Formation.

Bishop White Seminarians at Gonzaga University fulfill these requirements by declaring a major in Philosophy with the Kossel Concentration. Please see Appendix Q for the most recent Degree Worksheet from Gonzaga University.

In some cases, seminarians attend a community college prior to transferring to Gonzaga University. These seminarians will follow either a one-year or two-year pathway of courses which will enable him to transfer smoothly into the Philosophy Major at Gonzaga University. See Appendix R for a description of these pathways.

The Director of Intellectual Formation, a full-time faculty member of the Philosophy Department, ensures that all seminarians will complete their studies in a timely fashion and serves as liaison between Bishop White Seminary and Gonzaga University. Students are expected to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0.


Students must apply directly to either Gonzaga University or Spokane Community College.

Financial Aid

Each student should submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible for scholarships, grants, and aid from each school. These forms may be submitted beginning October 1 for the following academic year. Filing as early as possible will maximize the amount of aid you may receive. The FAFSA must be filled out directly online at the following website:

The Kossel Concentration in Philosophical Studies

“The study of philosophy is fundamental and indispensable to the structure of theological studies and to the formation of candidates for the priesthood. It is not by chance that the curriculum of theological studies is preceded by a time of special study of philosophy.”

(Fides et Ratio, 62)

The Kossel Concentration is named after the late Clifford Kossel, S.J., who spent most of his adult life teaching philosophy at Gonzaga. The Kossel Concentration is a program of philosophical study open to all Gonzaga University students but designed especially for students at Bishop White Seminary. The requirements of the Kossel Concentration are in accord with the Program of Priestly Formation (5th Edition). While seminarians will complete the regular Gonzaga major in philosophy, they must devote their elective courses to traditional areas of Catholic philosophy which are required by the PPF. In addition, they must also take additional courses in Latin.

Thirty-six credits in Philosophy are required to complete the Kossel Concentration, distributed as outlined below. In addition to the philosophy major, Kossel Concentration students must complete one year of Latin studies (8 credits) by taking the courses indicated below. Please see Gonzaga University’s website for the current selection of courses offered.

Philosophy Courses in the University Core Curriculum (9 credits)

  • PHIL 101 Reasoning and Argumentation (3 credits)
  • PHIL 201 Philosophy of Human Nature (3 credits)
  • PHIL 301 Philosophical Ethics (3 credits)

History of Philosophy Courses (9 credits)

  • PHIL 305 Ancient Greek Philosophy (3 credits)
  • PHIL 310 Medieval Philosophy (3 credits)
  • PHIL 320 Modern Philosophy (3 credits)

Advanced Philosophy Courses (12 credits)

  • PHIL 432 Philosophy Core Integration Seminar (3 credits)
  • PHIL 418 or PHIL 492 Contemporary Philosophy Elective (3 credits)
  • PHIL 419 or PHIL 493 Social/Political Philosophy Elective (3 credits)
  • PHIL 429 or PHIL 491 Philosophy Special Topics Elective (3 credits)

Pre-Theology Philosophy Seminars (6 credits)

  • PHIL 402 Faith, Reason & Knowledge (3 credits)
  • PHIL 403 Faith, Reason & Being (3 credits)

Latin Studies

  • LATN 101 Elementary Latin I (4 credits)
  • LATN 102 Elementary Latin II (4 credits)

Additional Language Studies:

Students are also encouraged to become conversant in Spanish during their time at Gonzaga, and to acquire a foundation in biblical Greek.