The National Conference of Catholic
Bishops’ Program of Priestly Formation
ed., 2005) and Pope John Paul II’s Pastores
Dabo Vobis (I Will Give You Shepherds,1992)
serve as the guiding documents for the foundation
of the Josephinum’s program, which is
centered on the four pillars of formation: human,
spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. The pillars
themselves are tailored to meet the varying
needs of students in each program (College,
however, the foundational aspects and practical
elements of each formation area as set forth
in these documents are common to all programs.
What is Human Formation?
Maturity, leadership, and love for Christ and
the Church are among the qualities essential
to the priesthood. The goal of the human formation
program is to make every student aware, from
the beginning, that the Church requires that
he be a well-integrated, balanced, and self-directed
person. Human formation is concerned with self-awareness,
self-discipline, attitudes, and physical well-being.
It encourages the seminarian’s knowledge
and acceptance of his personal history and its
relationship to the present, and it strives
to foster affective maturity, which is a necessary
condition for chaste celibacy. Human formation
also addresses relationships, friendships, and
respect for and collaboration with all persons.
It cultivates decision-making characterized
by openness to guidance from others combined
with confidence in one’s own leadership
The human formation of every Josephinum seminarian
is guided by his individual formation advisor,
who assists the student in setting goals, provides
support and problem-solving assistance, serves
as a sounding board, and writes yearly evaluations.
Conferences are held each semester on different
aspects of human formation, including a carefully
designed, integrated program of formation for
What is Spiritual Formation?
Spiritual Formation aims at developing in each
seminarian a deep relationship with Christ and
the Church. The signs of a strong relationship
are prayer, pastoral charity, simplicity of
life, obedience, and chaste celibacy. The program
fosters love for the worldwide Church that is
directly expressed in the fraternal life of
the Josephinum community.
In addition to staff Spiritual Directors in
each house, every seminarian has an individual
spiritual director, with whom he meets on a
regular basis. Seminarians also benefit from
spiritual conferences, Weekends of Recollection,
retreats, personal prayer, the Sacrament of
Reconciliation, and the daily celebration of
Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours.
What is Intellectual Formation?
Reaching far beyond the classroom and the fulfillment
of academic requirements, intellectual formation
seeks to cultivate learning as a lifelong pursuit.
Its goal is to empower the seminarian with the
spiritual, philosophical, theological, and practical
knowledge needed for academic degrees and effective
ministry. Skills in communication, research,
and time management are critical for growth
in the intellectual life. While academic coursework
comprises a large part of intellectual formation,
it is enhanced with lectures by internationally-renowned
scholars, by advanced technology, and by one
of the finest Catholic seminary libraries in
What is Pastoral Formation?
The pastoral formation program strives to help
the seminarian see Christ in those to whom he
ministers and come to see Christ at work in
himself. It promotes ministry that is faithful
to Church teaching and is characterized by pastoral
charity and love and respect for the faithful,
who are diverse in both people and culture.
It aims to educate seminarians about teachings
on justice, peace, and the dignity of human
life. Pastoral formation promotes continuous
growth in seminarians as they seek opportunities
to meet the needs of the faithful, strive to
improve their own leadership skills, and learn
to be an active presence in the Church community.
Utilizing theological reflection and academic
coursework, pastoral formation brings to light
the relationship of pastoral ministry to the
intellectual and spiritual elements of priestly
life. Seminarians in each program participate
in a supervised field experience that immerses
the student in the realities of day-to-day ministry.
Placements are assigned according to each student’s
needs, abilities, and areas for growth, and
progress is monitored through site visitations
and periodic evaluations.