TRENTON - The nation's first openly gay governor is headed back to school Tuesday - as a seminary student.

Jim McGreevey will begin full-time studies at General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in Manhattan, seminary spokesman Bruce Parker confirmed. McGreevey switched his religious affiliation from Roman Catholic to Episcopalian earlier this year and expressed interest in pursuing a call to ministry.

As a student in the nondegree program at the seminary, McGreevey has up to a year to choose a course of study. In the meantime, he can choose a broad array of courses in theology, liturgy, ministry and related topics that are available to students who are unsure of their educational and vocational goals, Parker said.

McGreevey, 50, shocked the nation in 2004 by declaring his homosexuality in a nationally televised speech with his stunned wife and parents at his side. The former altar boy proclaimed himself "a gay American" to quash a reputed blackmail threat by a former aide. He resigned as New Jersey's governor three months later.

McGreevey's staff said the governor had an extramarital affair with a male aide, whom he had named homeland security adviser. The aide denied having an affair and claims he was sexually harassed by the then-governor.

Both McGreevey and his nowestranged wife, Dina Matos McGreevey, have since published books about his secret sexuality and appeared on Oprah Winfrey's TV show. They are embroiled in a bitter divorce that includes Matos McGreevey's claims of infidelity, fraud and emotional distress.

Matos McGreevey also claimed libel, arguing that her husband made public claims that she is homophobic, which she says he knew to be false.

The couple have a daughter, Jacqueline, 5.

Religion has become an issue in the divorce. Matos McGreevey has demanded that their daughter not be allowed to receive communion in the Episcopal Church because she is being raised a Roman Catholic.

Growing up in Middlesex County, McGreevey served as an altar boy and attended Catholic schools. While in office, he continued to practice the religion, but differed from church teachings in several areas, including his support of abortion rights.

McGreevey and boyfriend Mark O'Donnell, an investment fund manager, now worship at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manhattan. Neither returned messages for comment.