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What is Formation?

Guiding Documents

The National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Program of Priestly Formation (5th
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, Pre-Theology, Theology); 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 and authority.

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 celibacy.

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 the country.

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.