The Stages of Formation

"The Program of Priestly Formation"

The 6th edition of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Program of Priestly Formation (2022), the guiding document for Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States, calls seminaries to use terms inclusive of all four dimensions of formation. The terminology refers to stages of formation, namely: Propaedeutic Stage, Discipleship Stage, Configuration to Christ Stage, and Vocational Synthesis.

What has been described previously as the formation program for seminarians in the College of Liberal Arts and the Pre-Theology Program is coterminous with the Propaedeutic Stage and Discipleship Stage. A diocesan-sponsored seminarian who is a student in the College of Liberal Arts is considered to be first in the Propaedeutic stage and then in the Discipleship stage until he receives his bachelor’s degree.

The Configuration Stage comprises men in the first three years of the School of Theology. Men in their final year of study before priestly ordination are said to be in the Vocational Synthesis stage and dedicate much of their time to pastoral ministry in a parish setting.

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