Formation Program
Pillar I: Human Formation
Pillar II: Spiritual Formation
Pillar III: Intellectual Formation
Pillar IV: Pastoral Formation
The Formation Schedule
Special Formation Programs
The Pre-Theology Program

Overview: According to Pastores dabo vobis, no. 43, an appropriate human formation is the necessary foundation for the whole task of priestly formation. For this reason Saint Vincent Seminary seeks through its human formation program to assist the future priest in developing his personality in such a way that he becomes a bridge for others in their meetings with Jesus Christ. The Seminary assists the priesthood candidate in knowing the depths of his own heart, understanding his own gifts and difficulties, learning trust and cooperation, and exercising serene and objective judgment, all the while guiding him to become the man and image of God only he can become.

Community: In the mystery of his unfolding life, God calls each priesthood candidate to be a “man of communion.” Saint Vincent Seminary therefore trains the future priest to be responsible for a community of faith. Such a call and trust requires that during his seminary years he learn to be affable, hospitable, sincere, prudent, discreet, approachable, generous, ready to serve, capable of opening himself to fraternal relationships, and quick to understand, forgive, and console (Pastores dabo vobis, no. 43).

Affective Maturity: Human formation builds upon affective maturity. Affective maturity itself presupposes the awareness that love has a central role to play in human life, a love that involves the entire person and is not impoverished by a social and cultural atmosphere that links it solely with the body and selfish pleasure. Through the human formation program Saint Vincent Seminary challenges and mentors its students to recognize and exercise proper discipline over the expression of their emotions, and to grow into “mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ” (Pastores dabo vobis, no. 44; Eph 4:13).

Celibacy: It is in this context of responsible love and affective maturity that formation for celibacy takes place. In view of the commitment to celibacy, affective maturity brings to human relationships a love for Christ, which overflows into a generous dedication of oneself to Christ, the Church, and the whole of the human family. At Saint Vincent Seminary candidates for the priesthood learn to be prudent in their relationships and to renounce anything that is a threat to celibate chastity, so that as future priests they will be able to live celibate chastity with faithfulness and joy, and with realistic expectations about the challenges to the celibate life which they will confront. The human formation program includes clear and emphatic training in self-knowledge and personal freedom, which allows the future priest to be master of himself, open to others, and generous in service to his neighbor (Pastores dabo vobis, no. 44, PPF no. 90-96).

Simplicity of Life: A priest is called to live a life of simplicity and detachment from the world. The diocesan and Benedictine faculty and staff members at Saint Vincent Seminary set a positive example for the seminarians in this regard, so that they may become generous and responsible in the stewardship of earthly goods, and especially in service to the poor. The seminarians are trained to be prudent and conscientious in the use of parish resources for the sake of building up the parish community under the direction of their bishop (PPF no. 97-99).

Ecclesial Authority and Obedience: The exercise of authority and the response of obedience are works of grace, goodwill, and human effort that play a part in the life of every priest. In light of this reality Saint Vincent Seminary teaches its students to appreciate and integrate the necessary role that authority plays in any vibrant community and to recognize the spiritual dimension of authority and obedience in the Catholic Church. Through instruction and the lived example of the faculty the seminarians are taught to manifest in heart and mind adherence to the Word of God, to the Church’s Magisterium, and to their own bishop or superior, as they seek the truth in charity. Such a disposition is manifested by a spirit of joyful trust, open dialogue, and generous cooperation with those in authority (Pastores dabo vobis, no. 27-28; PPF, no. 100-102).

Program Components:

  • All new students are provided with a clear and thorough overview of and orientation to the Program for Priestly Formation. Topics covered in this orientation include: priestly identity, the necessary integration of the ontological and ministerial dimensions of the priesthood, authentic self-understanding, personal maturity, respect for authority, and the personal appropriation and acceptance of the PPF.
  • Each student is assigned a priest formation advisor—distinct from his spiritual director—with whom he meets monthly to discuss his efforts to integrate the four pillars of priestly formation as well as any external forum issues that may arise.
  • Each year a formation evaluation profile is written on each seminarian which is then sent to the seminarian’s bishop or religious superior. This document covers each of the four pillars of the PPF, it establishes clear goals for the student for the following year—for which he is held accountable—and it is comprised of evaluations from faculty members, peers, and the student’s formation advisor, as well as a self evaluation.
  • Twice each semester a day-long conference is presented on a topic related to human formation, including an annual conference on celibacy led personally by the Rector, as well as other topics such as sexual/internet addiction, alcohol and substance abuse, simplicity of life and responsible stewardship, nutrition and health, personal maturity and professionalism, and time management.
  • Weekly (every Wednesday) classes and integration experiences are held for all Pre-Theology through Third Theology students on particular aspects of human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation (see the Formation Schedule on page 13).
  • Throughout the year a variety of community events provide opportunities for students to work together for a common purpose and interact with the wider Saint Vincent community. Each event presents the occasion to provide service to others.
  • All new students are obliged to attend Virtus: Protecting God’s Children, a nationally accredited child-abuse prevention and awareness program; they also receive ongoing updates from this program.


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