Gál Ferenc University is located in the heart of the Diocese of Szeged-Csanád, in the Dóm Square of Szeged, and welcomes young Catholics or graduates who are committed to theological studies, ecclesial vocations, teaching, science and service to the community.
Bishop Gyula Glattfelder founded the predecessor of the University in Szeged, in the centre of the diocese, after the Trianon border demarcations. The first academic year started in 1930. The seminary and college were run by the Jesuits until 1950, when the monastic orders were forcibly suspended. In the early 1970s, theological education for the laity was first clandestinely started in Szeged, and in 1983 it became possible to admit correspondence students. The training of full-time secular students (theologians and religious teachers) started with the change of regime. The University thus became eligible to prepare its theological students for the baccalaureate degree recognised by the Holy See and granted by Pázmány Péter Catholic University. This qualification is recognised in the universal Church and provides the opportunity to obtain further academic degrees of Licentiate and Doctorate. In 2008, the institution took over the name of the former professor of dogmatics, Ferenc Gál, who was the first rector of Pázmány Péter Catholic University and whose exceptional personality continues to influence education, priestly formation and the Hungarian Catholic Church. The University’s research groups, Gerhardus Publishing House, thematic publications, scientific journals, conferences, developing international relations and cultural events, which have found a home in Klebelsberg Hall, serve the social mission of the institution and the diocese. In keeping with the Catholic ecclesial nature of the University, the Grand Chancellor is the Bishop of the maintaining diocese, many of the faculty are clergy, and the students include seminarians preparing for their vocations at the diocesan St Gellert Seminary.
Our university has four faculties and two institutes. The Institute of Health Education and Sport in Szeged as part of its mission investigates and applies the role of sport in health education and lifestyle, and the components of the personality development effects of sport in general, in its pedagogical and sports science training. Our University maintains two public education institutions: the Practical Kindergarten and Primary School in Sarvas and the Gál Ferenc University Technical School, Vocational School, Secondary School and College as the base school for agricultural education. There is also an adult education centre based in Békés, with activities covering the Diocese. University training also provides training for staff working in the large institutional systems of the Diocese. In addition to the training of priests and religious teachers, lay and ecclesiastical staff, the training of nursery school teachers, teachers and ethics teachers is also important because the Diocese maintains a significant public education system, with more than eighty nursery, primary and secondary schools.
We have an important educational and scientific relationship with the University of Szeged, one of the leading universities in Hungary, with a high international reputation. Many of our students also study at the SZTE, and our courses and electives are also open to undergraduates. We are also cooperating in the development of higher education in the new model region of South-East Hungary and in teacher training. Our university has signed cooperation agreements with the University of Kaposvár, the Evangelical Theological University, the Pető András College and the National Rabbinical and Jewish University. We also develop and accredit courses in theology in cooperation with Hungarian Reformed and Evangelical universities and Catholic colleges. Our students can travel to foreign universities through the Erasmus programme and church-related programmes. Within the Faculty of Theology, there are several areas of training: in addition to theology, the University offers courses in ethics, pastoral counselling and organisational development, and Catholic Church and cultural history. In Mezőtúr, we plan to implement an agricultural and rural development programme. Of particular importance is the relationship with the Diocesan Pedagogical Institute, SZEGEPI, where the University participates in partnership with the Gelsey Vilmos Pedagogical Institute of the Diocese of Szeged-Csanád in the provision of professional services. The diocesan social institutions, as well as child and youth care institutions with a public service mission in the five counties, provide opportunities for our students of theology to prepare for their chosen vocation, to become actively involved in health, social and other helping activities, including homeless and elderly care, family support and child care.
Our university is ready to offer all its students an experience of spiritual enrichment, as well as an enrichment of knowledge, professional skills and professional competence. Christian values, as expressed in the University’s mission, are present in education, academic support services, student services, and provide opportunities for all to be personally involved in the community’s efforts to help one another. Our mission statement sets out our general objectives and the elements of our regional higher education role: from theology and other faith-based courses, through teacher training, social and health education, to agricultural and technical training, and from helping the Hungarian countryside to renew itself spiritually by strengthening communities through Christian values. We regularly organise national and international conferences, scientific, professional and cultural events, and the GFE Gerhardus Publishing House publishes volumes and scientific journals.