Spiritual Formation

Spiritual Formation

Spiritual formation fosters maturity of the seminarian such that he is able to grow in relationship with and imitation of the person of Jesus Christ.  He learns to grow as:

  • a friend and disciple of Christ, even more, another Christ;
  • a proclaimer of God’s word and teacher of God's people;
  • a servant of and shepherd within the faith community;
  • a presider over the celebration of the Church's sacramental life;
  • a prophet of God's justice in the world.

The Seminary does not hesitate to give prayer the first place in its Program of formation. Only in the raising of our minds and hearts to God in prayer can we advance in the life to which the Lord calls us. We cannot grow in intimacy with Jesus, we cannot know how to represent Jesus Christ and His teachings to the Church and to the world, unless we are growing union with Jesus through prayer.

There is another reason, existential if you will, why prayer is deliberately and consistently placed first in Seminary life. Given human nature, especially in our ever faster and more secular society, where efficiency and utility are the measure of life, spending time with God in prayer has become much more of a struggle. The seminarian, as a graduate student in a renowned university, might feel, like the busy priest, must be counter-cultural and have at the root of his person that friendship with Christ that expresses itself with interior dialogue in prayer and make prayer his first priority each day.

Prayer is twofold, public and personal. Both are crucial. Public prayer finds expression in the Liturgy of the Church, namely the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours. The liturgy has always been the Church's major opportunity for forming and educating the people of God.  That is true in a parish, where for most people the only common experience of faith is the gathering for the Eucharist on Sundays and feasts. It is true in great monasteries; it was true in the Church of the Martyrs; and it is true even under fierce persecution, where people take huge risks to meet secretly and celebrate the liturgy. Above all, it is true in a Seminary where future priests are learning to foster communal worship in parishes, primarily through the representation of the sacrifice of Calvary in the Eucharist. The most crucial formative experience for a seminarian comes about in his commitment to the communal worship in the Church's liturgy at the Seminary. Thus, the celebration of the Eucharist is the source and summit of Seminary spiritual life and formation. It is the central act of divine worship of the Mystical Body and the source of spiritual nourishment for Christian life. Association with Jesus' Paschal sacrifice lies at the heart of priestly ministry and life. The community and each member of the community are called to foster an intense Eucharistic spirituality, which includes Eucharistic adoration.

Priests, deacons and religious are committed to celebrate daily the Liturgy of the Hours as ministers who praise and give thanks with Jesus and who intercede before the Father for the great needs of the Church and the world. The Seminary celebrates a portion of that liturgy in common every day.

Then there is individual personal, not a communal act but a community priority. The celebration of the Eucharist and of the Liturgy of the Hours will become a deeper experience for those who are faithful to private prayer.

The Director of Spiritual Formation coordinates the overall Spiritual Program for the candidates. He ensures seminarians, the availability of personal spiritual direction, selects appropriate topics to the formation needs of the class year groups, invites guest speakers to address the Seminary community and arranges retreats and retreat directors.

The Spiritual Formation Program works in co-ordination with the academic, experiential and evaluative components of the total formation Program in preparing candidates for priestly service among the people of God. The Program's specific purpose is to foster the human and spiritual maturity of the candidates as they grow in relationship with and imitation of the person of Jesus Christ through daily encounter with Him. Without this deeper encounter, the seminarians run the risk of external routine and busyness without interior conversion and intimacy. Thus, seminarians are to see their lives as a daily, free response to the animating presence of the Holy Spirit who unites to the Risen Christ. This is a gradual and life-long journey of discernment, one that is encouraged and promoted in various ways during the six years of training in the Seminary Formation Program. It is the Holy Spirit who calls, forms, and transforms the seminarians in our care. Nevertheless, the formation faculty has the responsibility in a human way for the training and formation of the seminarians by providing the context, climate, structures, and opportunities for them to do their part in disposing themselves and responding to God's grace through all the activities, situations, events, and persons that they encounter each day.

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