Ab Initio 2020

Sunday, July 12 through Saturday, July 18, 2020.

Have you always wanted to learn Latin, but it was not offered in your seminary? Has it been many years since studying it and you practically feel like a beginner? Do you lack confidence in pronouncing Latin publicly? Ab Initio is a NEW week-long program for Catholic priests, religious (male and female), and seminarians seeking to begin a study of Latin. This program seeks to respond to the call of Pope Saint John XXIII’s Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia (English | Latin) to revitalize the Latin language in the Catholic Church. Ab Initio provides the perfect jumpstart to overcome the initial hurdles of language learning.


Ab Initio  is a new beginners’ intensive course in Latin inspired by the Veterum Sapientia Latin-immersion program for clerics held annually at Belmont Abbey College since 2013.  Hosted by the Diocese of Charlotte’s new St. Joseph College Seminary, the course will be taught by seminary faculty assisted by recent alumni/advanced seminarian students and carefully selected guests.  The purpose of Ab Initio is to help Catholic clergy, men and women religious, and seminarians who have had little or no formal instruction in Latin make a happy and confidence-building start.  

When & Where

July 12-18, 2020
Arriving: Sunday, July 12th, 4-6pm
Departing: Saturday, July 18th, 10am-12pm

If you have any questions or concerns about arriving late or leaving early, please contact us.

About Our Name:

Ab Initio (pronounce it AHB in-IT-zee-oh)is aLatin phrase meaning From the Beginning.

Who should Attend and What are the Benefits?

People who will benefit from participation in Ab Initio include

  • Priests, seminarians and men and women religious who wish to start internalizing the Catholic Church’s heritage language.  Doing so will make it easier to understand Sacred Scripture and the Latin liturgy, while gaining a common language with many of the greatest of the Saints.   
  • Priests who have had a little bit of Latin a long time ago and want to get comfortable enough with it to celebrate Latin liturgies will benefit from abundant guided practice in speaking.
  • Clerics and religious who have scanty formal background in Latin, but who have nevertheless been asked to start teaching it, will increase their knowledge of the subject and gain elementary-level speaking experience, which is immensely valuable as a teaching tool.
  • Seminarians about to start taking Latin in their regular seminary programs will find they get a powerful “jumpstart” in the learning process.
  • Seminarians who have already had some exposure to Latin in their seminaries but want to review, consolidate, and build on their knowledge will be able to do so in an encouraging and energizing environment.

Note:The above is intended to provide typical examples, but is not an exhaustive list.  Potential applicants whose experience does not fit any of the categories above are still encouraged to apply.  Such applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Your Daily Experience

As a participant, you’ll work with your instructors in plenary and small-group class sessions for a minimum of six and a maximum of eight classroom hours each day.  A typical day will take you through intensive classwork in the morning, Mass, a lunch break offering time for rest and meditation, an afternoon session combining language with games and physical activity, followed by a Rosary and after-dinner time for fellowship. Your classroom sessions will be immersive, featuring engaging, supportive exercises in speaking, reading, and writing.  These will help you grow in understanding the mechanics of the language and internalize new vocabulary by using it.  Classes and instructional activities (e.g. meal preparation, meals, games, walks) will be conducted in Latin appropriate to your level of comprehension and that of your fellow participants.  Meal preparation will be something we do together as a learning community in our seminary kitchen, directed by a Chief Cook who is also a Latin teacher.

Language and Liturgies

The goal of the Ab Initio program is to help participants develop their understanding of Latin and their ability to use it. Our host institution, St. Joseph College Seminary of Charlotte, will offer us spiritual support in harmony with this goal, viz. daily communal Mass, opportunities for private Masses in either form of the Roman Rite, the Divine Office, the Rosary and Adoration.


St. Joseph College Seminary is located at 22 Arctus Avenue in Belmont, North Carolina.  The address may come up as 1212 Perfection Avenue on many maps and GPS systems because the building and its street are both brand-new.  The main campus our neighboring partner institution Belmont Abbey College is well visible from exit 26 on southbound Interstate 85, about fifteen minutes distant from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT).  


The registration fee does not include lodging or transportation to and from St. Joseph’s College Seminary (SJCS). However, it does cover meals. For male participants seeking to room at SJCS, there is an additional fee of $50. Full refunds (minus a $40 processing fee) are available until May 15. If you are interested in participating, but lack necessary funds, please contact us about the possibility of a scholarship.

  • Introductory rate $400 pp for enrollment and payment before May 15; $500 pp if paid after May 15.
  • A group rate is offered at $300 per person when two or more people associated with the same institution or school district apply and pay before May 15. (Examples: two or more priests from the same parish; two or more religious in the same community; two or more seminarians from the same seminary, etc.)  Each person in such a group still fills out an individual online application. The group rate represents a $100 discount per person.  Group tuition is not available after May 15. 


  • Participants will be responsible for their own lodging. A limited number of St. Joseph’s College Seminary rooms are available to male participants. Price $50. NB: These rooms do not have a private bath or sink. Bedding and towels are included. Please contact us if you are interested in staying in a seminary room or if you have any other questions about lodging. We are currently working on finding housing for female religious in a nearby convent but cannot yet announce particulars.  Please check back soon on this page. 
  • Participants who prefer hotel accommodations may book rooms for themselves at nearby hotels.  The Belmont Hampton Inn, directly across from the Belmont Abbey College campus (about two miles from St. Joseph College Seminary), offers a discounted Belmont Abbey College rate of $115/night, inclusive of internet and breakfast.  (Note: you MUST specifically ask for the “BAC rate” when you make your reservation to get the discount. You will also need your own car to go back and forth to the seminary).  Hotel accommodations are not included in the registration fee and must be paid for separately by participants who choose them.  


Meals will be cooked communally and taken at St. Joseph’s College Seminary. The cost of all meals are included in the registration fee, including beer and wine.


Open to all Catholic priests and deacons, men and women religious, and seminarians age 18 and older. No prior experience or knowledge of Latin is required. Limited prior study or exposure to Latin does not disqualify. Because Ab Initio is directed primarily at beginners; those with significant experience in Latin should consider attending Veterum Sapientia in late July.   

How to Register

Registration: scroll down below to complete the registration form. Note that the individual tuition fee increases from $400 to $500 after May 15.

Cancellation: If you need to cancel after registration, you must notify the organizer IN WRITING.  If you give this notification on or before May 15 your registration fee will be refunded to you in full.  A registrant cancelling after May 15 will still receive full refund of the tuition fee provided that we receive another application to replace it.  In the event we do receive such a replacement registration, all fees paid will be refunded in full.  If we do not receive a replacement registration, $100 will be retained and the remainder refunded.

Advisory to Registrants

Ab Initio is a new program and depends entirely on participant fees for its support.  Faculty members have agreed to donate their time.   We must have a minimum of 18 paid registrations by May 15 for this program to run.  In the event that this minimum is not met and the event is cancelled by the organizers, all registered participants will be notified promptly and will receive full refund of all monies paid.  


Nancy E. Llewellyn PhD

Ab Initio principal organizer and Director Nancy E. Llewellyn teaches Latin at St.Joseph College Seminary and at its sister institution Belmont Abbey College.  She is the creator of the Vinculum Latin immersion program for laymen (est. 2019) and a co-creator of the Veterum Sapientia Latin immersion program for clerics (est. 2013), a distinction she shares with her Belmont Abbey colleague Dr. Gerry Malsbary and with the program’s originator Fr. Jason Barone of the Diocese of Charlotte. Before moving to Charlotte in 2017, Dr. Llewellyn taught Latin at Wyoming Catholic College, whose innovative, immersion-based Latin program she created. Dr. Llewellyn received her PhD in Classics from UCLA in 2006. She holds a Licenza in Christian and Classical Letters from the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome, where she also studied, at the Gregorian University, with renowned Vatican Latinist Fr. Reginald Foster.  She founded SALVI while a still a graduate student in Los Angeles and has since spent more than twenty years conducting weekend and summer immersion seminars around the country and abroad.  She is a Bryn Mawr graduate (BA Latin 1986) and a native of California.

Assistant Instructors: alumni and seminarians of St. Joseph College Seminary, Charlotte

Register Now