Divine Word College
Divine Word College is an undergraduate Roman Catholic seminary that educates its students for missionary service in the Church as priests, brothers, sisters and laypersons. It is owned and operated by the Society of the Divine Word. The college offers three baccalaureate degrees as well as English as a second language (ESL) classes to other Catholic religious missionaries and those aspiring to Catholic lay ministries.
Located near the larger city of Dubuque, the college is set on a campus in the small rural town of Epworth.
Divine Word College offers an education which combines a liberal arts curriculum and a program of "spiritual formation".
During their final semester of undergraduate studies at Divine Word College, young men who choose to continue with the SVD may apply for the Society’s one-year novitiate program at the Chicago Province Headquarters in Techny, Illinois. These men may then apply to profess first vows as members of the Society near the end of the novitiate program and continue with seminary studies at the Chicago Theologate.
Other Divine Word College students include SVDs from foreign countries who are in the ESL program and Catholic religious missionaries from other orders and countries who are earning their degrees or learning English before going on to their missionary work.
Campus and student life
The large combination gymnasium/auditorium accommodates a variety of sports and cultural events. In addition to an indoor swimming pool and weight room, the campus has new tennis courts and a soccer field. Off-campus activities include interaction with area host families. Art and culture play important roles at Divine Word College and are reflected in the art program, the two campus art galleries and unique displays of art and artifacts from around the world.
Founded in 1875 in Steyl, the Netherlands, the Roman Catholic order The Society of the Divine Word (SVD) sent the first Divine Word Missionary, Fr. Joseph Freinademetz, SVD, to China by 1879. In 1895, Brother Wendelin Meyer, SVD, went to America. By 1909, the Society had established the first seminary in the United States with the mission of training priest and brother candidates for service in foreign missions. The Society of the Divine Word originally established Divine Word Seminary, a four-year liberal arts college, in 1912 at Techny, Illinois. In 1931, the Society purchased property in Epworth, Iowa, where it established St. Paul’s Mission House, an SVD high school seminary. In 1964, Divine Word College replaced the high school seminary and has since served as the principal site of SVD undergraduate seminary education in the United States.
Intensive English Language Institute
The purpose of the Intensive English Language Institute is to provide students with the language skills they will need to participate successfully in college classes. Many students come from abroad to study at Divine Word and this program allows these students time to focus on their language skills before formally entering the college. There are occasionally other religious and laypeople who come to the program to improve their English.
Within the program there are five levels and a sixth level that bridges the English classes with college classes. Students are required to take Listening Speaking and Core, which consists of reading, writing and grammar, and there are several elective classes called satellites. The satellites differ from semester to semester but might include: Pronunciation and Prayers, American Culture, CALL, Idioms, Current Events, and Vocabulary.