McGivney Propaedeutic House

Formation Team

Rev. Shawn D. Gould, P.S.S.


B.A. (1998), University of Notre Dame
J.D. (2001), University of California at Berkeley School of Law
M.Div., S.T.B. (2010), S.T.L. (2014), University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, IL
S.T.D. (cand.), Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome

Fr. Shawn Gould, P.S.S., is a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago and a member of the Priests of the Society of St. Sulpice. Raised as a Presbyterian in Grand Haven, Michigan, Fr. Gould entered the Catholic Church while practicing law in Milwaukee. After moving to a large firm in Chicago, Fr. Gould discerned a call to the diocesan priesthood and entered Mundelein Seminary in 2005.


After ordination in 2010, Fr. Gould first served as Associate Pastor and Temporary Administrator of St. Alphonsus Parish in Chicago, particularly working with its large young adult population. He then served as Pastor of St. Bede Parish, Ingleside, strengthening the parish school’s finances, and shepherding the parish through a capital campaign and the Archdiocese’s “Renew My Church” re-organization of parishes. Released to the Society of St. Sulpice as a candidate in 2018, Fr. Gould served on the faculty of St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Baltimore, where he taught courses in the systematics and pre-theology departments, provided spiritual direction, and was a formator. After becoming a member of the Society in 2021, he was assigned to doctoral studies at the Angelicum and is presently completing a dissertation under the direction of Fr. Thomas Joseph White, O.P., comparing a dimension of St. Thomas Aquinas’s Christology to that of Fr. Jean-Jacques Olier, the founder of the Sulpicians.

Rev. James R. Yeakel, O.S.F.S.


B.A (1975), De Sales University
M.A. (1978), De Sales School of Theology, Washington, D.C.
M.S.W. (1980), Catholic University of America
Ph.D. (1997), Virginia Commonwealth University

Fr. James Yeakel, O.S.F.S., Ph.D. is a priest, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, and a licensed clinical social worker. After professing final vows in 1977, he was ordained a priest in 1979. He completed his formal education at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, earning a Ph.D. in clinical social work.



Fr. Yeakel has ministered in a variety of pastoral settings. He was the Director of Pastoral Studies at the De Sales School of Theology and taught as an adjunct professor at the Washington Theological Union and at Catholic University of America. As a licensed clinical social worker, he ministered on the staff of Catholic Charities in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and in Washington, D.C. He later served as an inpatient and outpatient therapist at St. Luke Institute. He was Director of Pastoral Care at St. Mary’s Hospital, Richmond, Virginia, and later, at St. Vincent’s Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Harrison, New York. He served as a certified supervisor, member, and past chair of The National Association of Catholic Chaplains Certification Commission. He has served as the Director of Formation for the Wilmington/ Philadelphia Province of the Oblates, as an Associate Pastor in Vienna, Virginia, and Philadelphia, and most recently, as Pastor of Immaculate Conception/ St. Jude parish in Elkton, Maryland.

Course Descriptions 

Seminarians in the McGivney Propaedeutic House will take three courses over the span of the Introductory, Fall, and Spring Periods. During the Fall and Spring Periods the courses each meet once per week for two hours. Rather than being primarily lectures, the courses emphasize the active participation of the seminarians. The classes are graded pass/fail and conclude with the seminarian writing a reflective essay incorporating his insights from the course. The courses are:

  • Introduction to the Scriptures: Old and New Testaments
  • Introduction to Catholic Doctrine: The Catechism of the Catholic Church I & II
  • Introduction to Catholic Spiritual Life I & II
Introduction to the Scriptures

Introduction to the Scriptures: Old and New Testaments

The propaedeutic Scripture courses focus on gaining familiarity with the major figures and events of salvation history. The seminarians will read the entirety of the Old and New Testaments over the course of the year and will participate in seminar style discussions of the material.

By reading between 3 to 6 pages of Scripture a day, it is possible to read the whole of the Old and New Testaments in just 35 weeks. The link below will open a PDF file containing an example of a propaedeutic Scripture reading plan.

Example of Scripture Reading Plan 2024-25

Introduction to Catholic Doctrine

Introduction to Catholic Doctrine: The Catechism of the Catholic Church I & II

After reading and discussing Part IV of the Catechism in the Introductory Period, the seminarians will read through and discuss Parts I to III over the span of the Fall and Spring Periods. The doctrine courses complement the Scripture courses, providing a structured understanding of the dogmatic and moral doctrine rooted in God’s self-revelation through the Incarnation, the prophets, and the apostles.

Over roughly 35 weeks the seminarians will read and discuss about 20 pages of the Catechism per week, in addition to certain other documents of the Second Vatican Council, other Councils, and the Church Fathers.  The link below will open a PDF containing an example of the propaedeutic Catechism reading plan.

Example of Catechism Reading Plan 2024-25

Introduction to Catholic Spiritual Life

Introduction to Catholic Spiritual Life I & II

Introduction to Catholic Spiritual Life I is organized thematically around various ways in which God mediates His presence to the seminarian through the Church and in the world. The seminarian will gain awareness of and confidence in the instrumental means through which God communicates Himself to the seminarian and to the world. The topics covered will include:

  • Liturgical Prayer: Praying with and the Through the Mass.
  • Praying with the Blessed Sacrament.
  • Praying with the Sacred Scriptures: Revisited.
  • Praying with the Blessed Virgin.
  • Praying with the Angels.
  • Praying with the Saints.
  • Praying with the Church on Earth.
  • Praying with the Sacraments: Baptism and Confirmation.
  • Praying with the Sacraments: Penance.
  • Praying with Time: The Liturgy of the Hours.
  • Praying in View of Heaven: Eschatological Spirituality.
  • Introduction to the Discernment of Spirits.
  • Introduction to the Prayer of Faith/the Dark Night.
  • Praying with Challenges to Faith from Modernity.
  • Grace and the Spiritual Life.
  • Consecrated Celibacy and the Spiritual Life.

Introduction to Catholic Spiritual Life II is organized historically, considering foundational Catholic spiritual writers and schools. This approach complements the first course, giving the seminarian confidence that he has been put into contact with the range of men and women whom God has blessed with particular insight into what is good and necessary to be a fruitful disciple of the Lord. Figures and schools discussed include:

  • The Apostolic Age and the Early Martyrs.
  • Eastern Monasticism.
  • Augustine.
  • Western Monasticism: John Cassian & St. Benedict.
  • Gregory the Great.
  • The Carthusians; St. Bernard.
  • Norbert & the Canons Regular.
  • Franciscan and Dominican Spirituality.
  • The Mystics.
  • Devotio Moderna & Thomas à Kempis.
  • The Carmelites.
  • Ignatian Spirituality.
  • Francis de Sales.
  • The French School.
  • The Twentieth Century: St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
  • Priestly and Lay Spirituality: A Reprise.