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Frequently Asked Questions about the Dead Theologians Society
How did you come up with the name?

The name is a take from the popular ‘90’s movie Dead Poets Society where in the film teens learn to appreciate the writings of poets and various authors who had gone before them. In 1997 Eddie Cotter and some of the teens from his youth group at Church of the Annunciation in Altamonte Springs, Florida were discussing how it would be very cool to help other young people appreciate the richness, beauty and truth of their Catholic faith by discovering the writings and lives of the Saints. Since the Saints are “dead” only by the world’s standards but are certainly alive with Jesus in Heaven, the name Dead Theologians Society seemed like a winner. Shortly thereafter Eddie moved to Newark, Ohio to work at St. Francis de Sales parish where the first DTS meeting was held.

Though many young people today may be unfamiliar with the movie Dead Poets Society, the name still serves us well. At Dead Theologians Society we don’t dwell on death, and are certainly not a morbid or depressing program. We do address the reality that we all will face death and it will truly be one of the most important events in our lives. Sacred Scripture in Sirach 7:36 states, “In whatever you do, remember the end of your life, and you will never sin.” As Catholics we’re taught not to fear death, but to fear sin and that we must live this life with a sense of responsibility and a direction that leads to Heaven. The title of our apostolate indicates to young people that we are not some “soft” program, but rather we face the tough issues in life and through the examples of the Saints, the Dead Theologians Society will inspire the youth of today to become the saints of tomorrow.

What does the DTS motto, “Mortuum Mundo – Vivum in Christo” mean?

The DTS motto, “Mortuum Mundo – Vivum in Christo” is Latin for “Dead to the World – Alive in Christ” This is inspired by Romans 6:11 where St. Paul tells us to be dead to sin and alive in Christ Jesus. The Saints we study are alive in Christ forever. DTS members seek to always become more alive in Christ through their Catholic faith and “dead” to the negative influences of the world.

Is the Dead Theologians Society a secretive organization?

The Dead Theologians Society is absolutely NOT a secretive organization nor is it an organization of secrets. DTS is a very transparent program held with full knowledge and consent of the parish or school in which it operates. There are always adults present at meetings and the members are encouraged to share what they’ve learned about their faith at the meetings and to be genuine Christian witnesses to others. DTS chapters meet in various spaces that are conducive to prayer and reflection. Generally these meeting places are not in a classroom with the institutional lighting but rather a place that young people would find prayerful and inspiring. Chapters meet in churches, youth rooms or classrooms converted to have a “chapel or monastery-like” vibe, choir lofts for an “upper room” effect or undercroft chapels in churches.  Meeting spaces must meet all required safety codes.

Who is eligible for membership? What ages?

DTS is an apostolate for high school age teens grades 9 thru 12 and/or college age young adults ages 18 thru 24 but not a mix of the two. Membership is limited to these age groups and the designated adult leadership of each chapter.

What goes on at a DTS meeting? How long does a meeting last?

An evening of DTS combines a nice blend of the social and spiritual. We believe that two great errors in youth ministry are programs that are either, a) all religion and no social or b) all social and no religion. DTS has a format that blends the two in an evening that keeps the interest of the young people while helping them to grow in faith and community. A typical evening lasts for two hours. A good time is 7:00pm to 9:00pm. This time usually does not conflict with after school extra curricular activities, family dinner time (which hopefully is being carved out by families), homework, and it still gets the young people home at a decent hour.

At a DTS meeting, young people are inspired by the lives of Saints, grow in their prayer life and deepen their knowledge of the Catholic Faith, in a way that engages them while allowing time to grow in community and socialize.

Is there a role for parents in DTS?

Parents play a key active and supportive role in DTS in a manner that still allows it to be an apostolate for teens and college age young adults. Chapters are encouraged to organize “DTS Support Groups” made up of parents and interested parish adults to support the young people in their faith formation. At DTS chapters nationwide, parents provide financial sponsorship, hospitality, and vital prayer support for their young people. Parents are encouraged to spend time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament during the DTS meetings.

What are the DTS “hoods” and why are they black?

The official DTS “hoodie” or “hood” is simply a black hooded sweatshirt of the style that almost everyone wears in cool weather or has in their closet. It is NOT and never has been some type of long flowing gown with a hood that is worn over the face to conceal the identity of the wearer! There is nothing dark or sinister about it. While we make it clear that the DTS hoodie is not a religious habit, we do speak of its connection to the religious habits of the past and present. Many religious orders took their habits from the common wear of the poor or commoner of the time. In our present time, a pullover sweatshirt with a hood attached is part of a young person’s normal clothing. What is common is again taken and made holy. The hooded sweatshirt is made holy insofar as it is a reminder of the mission and motto of the Dead Theologians Society. Black was chosen for several reasons. It is a common and traditional color for a hoodie and it will never go out of style. It was not the color of one of the schools represented by the youth where DTS began so we could keep our loyalties neutral! Black was a color worn by so many of the great Saints that are studied who were diocesan clergy or belonged to orders that had black as all or part of their habit, i.e. Conventual Franciscans, Benedictines, Augustinians, Passionists, Dominicans, etc. Most of the guys wouldn’t want to wear pastel colors. Black is worn by both males and females and black was the best backdrop color for our gold and white monstrance logo.

How often do groups meet?

The frequency of DTS meetings vary based upon the schedule of the individual parish where a chapter exists. DTS meetings are most frequently held once per week. Many chapters meet every other week and some meet once per month. Chapters that meet only once per month do experience greater challenges in creating a community and in keeping a momentum going. DTS chapters meet on the night of the week and time that is best for the parish where it is held. Some groups meet year ‘round while many meet from September/October and go till April/May. The summer is often used for pilgrimages and retreats under the auspices of the parish youth program. Many chapters officially take a break in the summer and its members replace the usual meeting time for an hour of Eucharistic Adoration. This is highly encouraged.

What does it take to get a chapter started?

Starting a DTS chapter is quite easy to do. Chapters are primarily parish based and have an adult leadership of three. This leadership must include a priest or deacon in good standing with the Catholic Church. The other leaders are usually the parish youth minister, DRE and an associate youth minister. If there are no persons in these positions at the parish then two other adults approved by the pastor can make up the leadership.

The proposed leadership then fills out the online application, signs and returns a copy of the Dead Theologians Society National Policies and Chapter Agreement form along with a check for $500.00 payable to the Dead Theologians Society to the National Office. Approval is usually made within days.

What does a chapter receive for the $500.00?

For the initial fee of $500.00 a chapter receives:

  • The rights to use the name and the logo of the Dead Theologians Society for one year.
  • The DTS Manual complete with prayers, which explains how to set up and run a DTS meeting from A to Z. Manual also comes with a resource list.
  • Access to Chapter Support Services which include downloadable Saints teachings, links to Saint teachings, apologetic questions and answers, and more.
  • Seven official DTS hoodies with embroidered DTS logo
  • Seven olive wood rosaries made in Bethlehem exclusively for the Dead Theologians Society.
  • Seven wool Brown Scapulars of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
  • Full color posters to promote your DTS chapter
  • DTS DVD that can be used to effectively promote DTS within the parish community.

A portion of the initial fee supports the existence of the DTS National Office so the apostolate can continue safe, effective and unified growth.

What are the ongoing costs involved?

There is an annual renewal fee of $250.00 to maintain the rights of the Dead Theologians Society name and logo. The initial fee provides all materials for a group of seven members. For each additional member a parish can budget a cost of about $37.00 per member. For this cost of about $37.00 a DTS teen can be sponsored with all their materials for four years!!! This buys their DTS hoodie, scapular and DTS rosary which can last them a lifetime. Anyone who has teens can appreciate how fast parents can go through $37.00 and more for things that don’t help their teens grow in faith! Teens are not asked to pay membership fees or buy their own DTS hoodie, scapular or rosary. Most parents and parish adults are happy to sponsor their young people in this faith endeavor. DTS chapters are supported through parish and youth ministry budgets, parent/adult sponsorship, private benefactors, parish organizations like the Knights of Columbus and various fund raisers.

Chapters purchase the additional DTS hoodies and rosaries from the DTS International Headquarters as their chapters grow. This ensures quality, uniformity, assistance for poor and mission parishes with DTS, and helps the apostolate continue to grow.

What are some of the fruits of DTS?

Parishes regularly report to us the blessed results DTS has born in the lives of their parish teens and young adults such as:

  • Increased Mass attendance among teen and college age population
  • Vocations to religious life and/or a life of service
  • Increased pre-Confirmation enthusiasm and post-Confirmation attendance at Mass and youth/parish activities
  • Increased interest in young people participating in parish life, service and other ministries
  • Increased reception of the Sacraments, especially Communion and Confession
  • Increased faith formation and a deeper prayer life
If you have any Comments or Questions please contact Eddie Cotter, Jr.: