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The Chicago Catholic Scripture School (CCSS) began as a program of the Office for Catechesis and Youth Ministry in 1999. Since then, over 200 students have graduated from the four-year program in our four graduating classes (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010). In 2010/2012, about 90 students are participating in CCSS at five sites.
Program Sites »

Program Description
The Chicago Catholic Scripture School (CCSS) uses the Catholic Biblical School Program published by Paulist Press.  The program guides students through every book of the Bible in four years. We ask students to commit to the program for at least two years.  The CCSS makes the sames committment to remain at that site for 2 years.  It is always our hope when opening a new site that enrollment will be sufficient to maintain a site for all 4 years.

CCSS consists of two phases:

Basic Biblical Studies
The first two years focus on methods of biblical study and praying with the Bible, and a comprehensive study of some major books of the Old and New Testaments. Students who fulfill the requirements of the first two years receive a Certificate of Basic Biblical Studies from the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Advanced Biblical Studies
The remaining two years cover every other book of the Bible. Students who complete this phase receive a Four-Year Certificate of Biblical Studies from the Archdiocese of Chicago.

For a list of biblical books and themes covered in each year, see PDF file: Four-Year Plan of Study.


Approach to Learning
CCSS takes a two-fold approach to learning:

Lectures and readings give students the basic biblical scholarship necessary to understand the Bible as contemporary Catholic readers.

Written work with the biblical text, small group and large group discussions, communal prayer, and instructor guidance promote the growth and deepening of each student’s faith experience.

Because our students have many obligations to work and family, we make an effort to keep the amount of written work to manageable amounts.

The small group process forms the heart of the CCSS faith formation process. At the beginning of each year, we place each student in a small group that stays together the entire year. In this group, students get to know and trust each other. Each week they work through homework questions, as well as engage the Scripture text in ways that arise from the experiences of the group.

Class Year and Class Structure
Each year of the curriculum consists of 30 units of study divided into three 10-unit quarters. Weekday classes cover one unit each week. Saturday classes cover two units approximately every other week. The year ends with a special closing class.

Each class follows the same format:

Opening prayer, based on the Scripture text studied the previous week.

Small group discussion of the written homework.

Large group questions arising from the homework.

A lecture by the instructor on the topic of the day.

Throughout the year
For each unit, students complete a reading assignment in the biblical book being studied, often a supplemental reading assignment, and written answers to 2-3 homework questions.

Students typically spend about 2 hours a week preparing for a single unit. Saturday classes, covering two units, need about 4-8 hours preparation time over two weeks.

In the last class of each 10-unit quarter, students take a review exercise, which is partly self-corrected and partly reviewed by an instructor.

The homework and the review exercises offer students an opportunity to more deeply engage Scripture and show themselves how much they've learned!

In summer
In preparation for each year, students read a related book during the summer and complete a short written assignment on the book.

We realize life can get sometimes get in the way of attending class and completing homework. We ask that students miss no more than two assignments per quarter; homework may be turned in late. We also make arrangements for students to listen to instructor presentations in the event of an absence.

Tuition is $525 a year, paid in three payments of $175. Payments are due at the beginning of each unit.  There are three units per year.

Other arrangements for payment can be made if needed. Scholarship funds are also available.

CCSS uses the Second Edition of the Catholic Study Bible, a New American Bible translation supplemented by excellent study materials. The New American Bible translation is the translation used in the Liturgy.

Throughout the program, students also use a Bible dictionary and a Bible atlas. Other supplementary books vary by year.  For a list of the books used each year visit the class documents page of this site.

Book costs vary by year, ranging from $75-$100.

Students purchase most books from the bookstore of their choice. Student workbooks are available from Paulist Press.

Chicago Catholic Scripture School teachers include faculty from Catholic universities and schools of ministry in the Chicago area, as well as other experienced teachers who hold advanced degrees in biblical studies and/or theology.

Current and past teachers include:

Ms. Eva Bielanski
Fr. Bob Carroll, Carmel Catholic High School, Mundelein
Mr. Jack Cannuli, Carmel Catholic High School, Mundelein
Ms. Cathy Crino, St. Alphonsus Parish, Chicago
+ Dcn. Julius Frazier, Notre Dame High School for Girls, Chicago
Dr. Joan Gorski, St. Laurence High School
Fr. Leslie Hoppe, Catholic Theological Union
Fr. John Kilgallen, Pontifical Biblical Institute
Ms. Carol Kloss
Mr. Thomas Markowski, Archdiocese of Chicago
Mr. Scott McLarty, St. Ignatius College Prep, Chicago
Mr. Tom McLaughlin, OFCYM
Ms. Tammy Ochoa, Marist High School
Fr. James Okoye, Catholic Theological Union
Dr. Jim Papandrea
Ms. Cynthia Roberts
Fr. Bob Schoenstene, University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein
Mr. Dan Sedlacek, Carmel Catholic High School, Mundelein
Mr. Peter Siblio, Loyola University
Ms. Mary Ann Spina, Holy Cross Parish, Deerfield
Mr. Chuck Thompson, St. Ignatius College Prep, Chicago
Dr. Pauline Viviano, Loyola University
Dr. Clodagh Weldon, Dominican University
Mr. Paul West, St. Ignatius College Prep, Chicago
Ms. Brigid Wolff, OFCYM
Fr. Jacek Wrona, St. Ladislaus Parish

Application Process
If you would like to apply to CCSS, see To Apply.