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: The core that unifies and gives life to being a priest and acting as a priest (Pastores dabo vobis, no. 45) originates in sound spiritual and liturgical formation. Indeed, these inter-related areas of forma­tion are given priority at Saint Vincent Seminary. Consequently, the Seminary conducts its priestly formation program in a way that seminarians learn to live in intimate and unceasing union with God the Father, through his Son Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit (Optatam totius, 8). Most importantly, the sacred liturgy, as the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed and the font from which all her power flows, is the privileged place of intimate communion with the Most Blessed Trin­ity.

The Holy Mass: At Saint Vincent Seminary, the sacred liturgy holds pride of place in the spiritual formation of men for the priesthood. Daily Mass is an integral part of the seminarian’s day, and the Seminary faithfully observes the Church’s liturgical norms, while at the same time incorporating the various options pro­vided for in the Roman Missal according to the principle of progressive solemnity. The full range of the Church’s treasury of sacred music is utilized, including Gregorian chant, sacred polyphony, and contemporary compositions (Sacrosanctum concilium, no. 116).

The Liturgy of the Hours: Priesthood candidates celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours daily, with Morning and Evening Prayer generally prayed in common. Occasionally, diocesan seminarians will pray privately in order to ac­commodate the schedule and accustom them to personal fidelity to the Office when they are not in the community. Solemn Evening Prayer is celebrated on Sundays and solemnities.

The Sacrament of Penance: Growth in priestly identity and holiness requires a frequent and regular reception of the Sacrament of Penance so that the priesthood candidate can come before God who is “rich in mercy” (Eph. 2:4). To assist in this growth, there are daily scheduled opportunities for confession either at the Seminary it­self or at Saint Vincent Basilica Parish. Coupled with regular recourse to the Sacrament, the Seminary encourages a healthy sense of asceticism and interior discipline, a spirit of sacrifice and self-denial, the acceptance of hard work and of the cross in a way that leads to a healthy transformation into the Priesthood of Christ himself 
(Pastores dabo vobis, no. 48).

Spiritual Direction: Another vital element of the Seminary’s priestly formation program is regular spiritual direction. Each student has a priest spiritual director with whom he meets at least once each month. Additionally, three Days of Recollection occur each year: two in the fall semester and one in the spring semester during Lent. The annual seminary retreat takes place directly before the start of the spring semester.

Spiritual Theology: The spiritual formation program is also integrated with the academic curriculum. Pre-theologians take a fundamental course on Prayer and Christian Spirituality. Also, first theologians take a course on either Diocesan Priestly Spirituality or Monastic Spirituality, depending upon their vocational charism. Moreover, theology and scripture professors commonly make spiritual and pastoral in­ferences in their academic material.

Personal Prayer: Devotional practices intended to nurture an ever deepening love of God are also fostered. Lectio divina, the prayerful and meditated reading of the word of God, is an essential element of spiritual and liturgical formation (Pastores dabo vobis, no. 47). One evening a week, seminarians have an op­portunity to gather together, prayerfully reflecting over the readings for the upcoming Sunday. Eu­charistic adoration is also highly esteemed, and students are strongly encouraged to make a daily holy hour. The Eucharist is exposed each morning, and Exposition and Benediction take place every Thursday and Sunday. Devotion to Our Lady is strongly fostered. The rosary is recited publicly ev­ery Monday, and in preparation for the Solemnity of the Annunciation, students are encouraged to make or renew a consecration to the Blessed Virgin according to the formula of Saint Louis de Mont­fort, which was so strongly endorsed by Pope John Paul II. Seasonal devotional practices, such as Stations of the Cross in Lent, suffrages for the faithful departed in November, and Advent devotions familiarize students with communal ways to enhance liturgical seasons and with Church customs. Elective courses and workshops encourage and support this prayerful listening to enable the unfolding mystery of the candidate’s priestly life.

Asceticism: In conjunction with the other pillars of priestly formation, the spiritual formation program fosters for­mation for chaste celibacy through encouraging an assiduous and authentic life of prayer, a spousal relationship with the Church [the Lord Jesus], esteem for priestly friendship and self-discipline, the acceptance of solitude, and fostering physical and psychological health 
(Pastores dabo vobis, no. 50).

Program Components

  • The fall semester opens with a Day of Recollection, plus one in November and in Lent;
  • The spring semester opens with a five-day retreat;
  • Second Pre-theologians have a year-long spiritual reading formation conference;
  • First theologians have a year-long spiritual formation integration seminar.


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