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Theology Courses

The objective content of this freshman course is an overview of how God has been revealed through salvation history and how this revelation is shared with humanity through the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Testament. In the first semester, students study the Pentateuch, Israel as a nation, the prophets and Israel’s hope for a messiah as the central stories of Judaism. The second semester focuses on Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, the Gospels, the Pauline epistles and the continuity of Scripture. We strive to understand what the stories meant to the original audience, as well as what they mean to the modern reader and believer. This course begins with an introduction to Sacred Heart education.


The subjective content of this course includes opportunities for students to draw parallels between our life experiences and those of the people of the Hebrew Scriptures, to reflect on the teachings of Jesus as a challenge for all of us as Christians to direct our lives in response to the Gospel, and to gain a deeper appreciation for the beliefs, moral vision, spirituality and scholarship of the Catholic Church.

This course guides students in exploring and understanding the Catholic Church, as well as its origin, structure, and mission. Additionally, the course addresses the roles of the hierarchy, those in religious life, and the laity in supporting the mission of the Church. Particular attention is paid to the global presence of the Church as a light to all people.


Different sections of this class will focus on the curriculum through the lens of one of three themes:

  • IIA: Contemporary Women in the Church
  • IIB: The Society of the Sacred Heart
  • IIC: The Global Church and Her Saints

Christ's Mission of Salvation  

This one-semester sophomore course leads students toward a deeper understanding of our need for redemption and how Jesus is the fulfillment of God's promise of redemption.  We explore how, through his suffering, death, Resurrection, and Ascension, Jesus makes our redemption possible.  We also address how we continually experience the Paschal Mystery in our lives and the liturgy of the Church.

Throughout the school year, sophomores travel with their theology classes to various service sites.  In light of Goal 3, we learn about the marginalized in the Omaha area and volunteer at Omaha agencies.  Students receive a maximum of 10 hours of regular community service that count towards the required hours for sophomore year. 

This fall semester junior course introduces students to a Catholic understanding of the Sacraments.  We begin with the basic, yet profound, question, “What is a Sacrament?”  We then proceed to an individual study of each Sacrament.  During this study, students complete five initiatives.  First, we seek to understand how each Sacrament is rooted in the saving work of Jesus as recorded in Scripture.  Second, we explore how the Early Christian Communities celebrated the Sacraments.  Third, we study the historical development of each Sacrament.  Fourth, we examine how contemporary Catholics celebrate the Sacraments.  Fifth, we discuss contemporary issues surrounding the Sacraments, especially in regards to social justice, interdisciplinary dialogue, ecumenical dialogue, and interreligious dialogue.  Throughout the entire course, students are asked to reflect upon how the Sacraments commission every one of us to share the love of Christ with others, especially the poor and the marginalized.

This spring semester junior course introduces students to a Catholic understanding of Christian Morality.  We begin by asking simple, yet profound questions: “What is the good life?  What makes one happy?”  Next, we consider different gifts and guides within Catholicism that help every one of us live a Christian moral life and experience happiness.  Throughout the course, we examine various aspects and issues of modern life in society from a Christian moral perspective.  We explore concrete and accessible examples of living a Christian moral life found in the lives of contemporary Roman Catholic male and female leaders, including Mother Teresa, Oscar Romero, Jean Donovan, Dorothy Day, Joseph Bernardin, Dorothy Stang, and Helen Prejean.   We also explore living a Christian moral life through an examination of interdisciplinary scholarship, ecumenical discussion, and interreligious dialogue. The course concludes with every student reflecting upon course material and her own moral beliefs, values, and actions.z

Based on the new U. S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference Curriculum (Elective E) and the Vatican Council II document Nostra Aetate, this fall semester senior theology course explores the meanings, values, and practices at the heart of world’s religions. Throughout the semester we approach the world’s traditions with empathy as we strive to “foster inter-religious acceptance and dialogue by educating to an understanding of and deep respect for the religions of the world.” (Goal 1, Criteria 6)


Why do humans everywhere develop spirituality and rituals for living?  Why is religion a universal human endeavor?  What do primal religions and the major traditions of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism have in common with Christianity?  What does the Roman Catholic Church teach about the relationship between itself and other religions?


We explore how various cultures approach Sacred Mystery and life’s mysteries by examining their structures for communal and individual transcendent experiences.  We respect what each religious tradition says about itself while comparing the key ideas and beliefs of major religious traditions through the lens of Roman Catholic inter-religious dialogue and the Society of the Sacred Heart’s global outreach. We utilize daily prayer, readings, articles, Vatican documents, films, guest speakers, class discussions, self-directed individual and group learning activities, and field trips. We embark on a journey to make our own faith, spirituality, and beliefs stronger, wiser and deeper as we travel through the diversity, wisdom, and zeal of the world’s religious beliefs.

This spring semester senior course focuses on the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Curriculum (Elective C) and Sacred Heart Goal 2 and 3: “a deep respect for intellectual values” and “a social awareness which impels to action.”  We learn to see social injustice through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching in two primary ways: (1) Students go on regular service trips into the Omaha community to encounter the poor, marginalized, or those suffering from injustice. (2) We learn, analyze, and reflect on the Catholic Church’s past and present responses to injustice.  We examine moral choices that govern our personal, cultural, political, economic, and public lives by expanding the junior year introduction of these topics. Our service-learning approach analyzes and increases personal awareness of past and current social issues in local, national, and global arenas from the perspective of Christian disciples.  We supplement our primary focus of Catholic Social Teaching with perspectives drawn from the Religious of the Sacred Heart, the lives of the saints and contemporary role models. Furthermore, students learn to discern their own talents and how they might use those talents to serve others after graduating from Duchesne.


Our hope and goal is to expose and discuss social justice issues in ways that help us realize our own roles, responsibilities, and vocations as members of the global community. Growth in awareness of global justice issues allows every student to show God’s agapic (unconditional) love to others through living out the social teachings of the Catholic Church.

Globalization has made our world “smaller” today than it ever has been before, yet for many true community and belonging has become even more difficult to find. There is a spiritual divide between public life and private faith, and an exponential divide between worker and consumer.

Finding God in All Foods is a sophomore-senior hands-on course that links some of these growing divisions. It is designed for students interested in exploring how God is at work in their everyday lives, not so much in the big moments but rather in the everyday. Students explore and develop their faith journey while learning real-life culinary skills, the ethical implications of eating, and some basic horticultural skills. These hands-on learning opportunities provide students a safe environment to pursue creativity and ponder not just what they will be after high school but also the more important question: who.  Centered around Goal 1, Goal 3, and Goal 4 of Sacred Heart Education, the course uses food, as the medium to nurture a personal and active faith, investigate global injustices, and build community.