Configuration Stage

Modeling Jesus Christ, Shepherd & Servant

In the Configuration Stage, the seminarian models his life on the self-donation of Jesus Christ, Shepherd and Servant, as he prepares more immediately for Holy Orders. Moving from the Discipleship Stage, in which one has grown in discipleship, in the Configuration Stage, the seminarian grows in discipleship but also in friendship with Jesus Christ through his configuration to him.

Formation of seminarians in the Configuration Stage takes place within the School of Theology. Priests and professors strive to provide a thorough and integral theological formation with a pastoral emphasis. Formators guide seminarians to full maturity and prepare them to undertake priestly ministry with skill and pastoral sensitivity. The dimensions of formation are integrated in a way that assists seminarians in developing a priestly identity and heart, as well as a capacity for leadership in the Church.

First Year

The First Year Seminarian:

Begins his theological studies and the serious work of an eventual commitment to a diocese or religious order.

Will be admitted to Candidacy for Holy Orders, after which he begins to wear clerical attire, and receive the ministry of Lector, becoming increasingly familiar with and reliant on the Word of God.

Examines honestly and thoroughly his capacity and desire for the celibate life, maintaining a disciplined and ordered spiritual life to support him in being faithful to his commitment to celibacy.

Cultivates intellectual and theological studiousness, viewing his studies not as an interruption to his spiritual life and pastoral work but as an integral part of formation.

Embraces his pastoral placement as an opportunity to communicate the fundamentals of the faith and to learn practical techniques from experienced teachers.

Clearly articulates his call and his conviction to be a priest toward the end of this year, supported by positive confirmation from formators regarding that call.

Second Year

The seminarian in the second year of the Configuration stage finds himself in a crucial year of formation. To put it colloquially, “all the pieces should be in place by the end of this year of formation.” By the end of this year, he may be one year from ordination to the Diaconate. Therefore, he should have a moral certainty of the call he has been given. The seminarian has appropriately offered self-disclosure in all four dimensions of formation so that his Bishop or Religious Superior, with the recommendation of the Rector and the Community of Formators, can also have moral certainty in calling him to orders in the future. This year the seminarian will receive the Ministry of Acolyte.

Third Year

The seminarian in the third year of the Configuration stage is, in most cases, in his final year of preparation for ordination as a Deacon. In the early part of the spring semester, he will petition for ordination from his Bishop or Religious Superior, take the oath of fidelity, and make his profession of faith. He should take these final steps before ordination only if he is fully convinced that he is ready and willing to petition for ordination. He will be able to advance in good conscience if he and those responsible for his formation are convinced that he possesses the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral qualities that a priest should have.

Fourth Year

This last year of formation is a transition from the seminary and of imminent preparation for ordination to the priesthood. Approaching the end of their seminary formation, the deacons have passed through the initial stages of formation and cultivated solid habits that will serve them well in priestly life. They will serve in parishes, preaching and offering sacramental ministry. It is when a seminarian/deacon learns to live the freedom and maturity expected of a priest.

During this year, the deacon works to overcome any human fears and grow in the freedom of natural self-confidence to bring the Gospel to all who need it. To that end, it is evident that he can maintain wholesome friendships with priests and others and willingly participates in presbyteral gatherings. He is willing and open to working with those who assist in his pastoral placement.

The deacon seeks to become more integrated into the presbyterate and local church to which he belongs or in which his institute of consecrated life is located. As he transitions to full-time ministry, he continues to develop strategies and plans for the future and appropriate coping resources with the help of his spiritual director. This includes regular habits of prayer, rest, exercise, study, spiritual direction, and preparing to be a good steward of the gifts entrusted to him.

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