|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: Perhaps now more than in recent generations, a critical component to effective priestly ministry is a solid intellectual formation. The contemporary priest must have two key skills. “Intellectual formation applies not only to a comprehensive understanding of the mysteries of the Catholic faith, but also an ability to explain and even defend the reasoning that supports those truths” (The Program of Priestly Formation no. 164).
Integrated Curriculum: In order to promote conversion of mind and heart, we provide an academic curriculum that aims at the integration of a candidate’s human, spiritual, pastoral, and intellectual life. The curriculum addresses all four dimensions of priestly life and seeks to form the man into the priesthood of Christ. The distribution of courses throughout the eight semesters offers a developmental understanding of Sacred Scripture and Roman Catholic theology, and the faculty teaches from both historical and dogmatic perspectives so that students know what the Church teaches, as well as why. The distribution of courses also offers a developmental approach for the men themselves who, with each year of study and formation, become more fully formed as shepherds after Christ’s own heart.
Love of Learning: The spirit of Benedictine culture has been summarized as “the love of learning and the desire for God.” Early Benedictine communities developed a form of spiritual discipline, lectio divina, which integrates study and prayer. Essentially, lectio divina is a quest for communion with the Lord through the devout reading of Scripture, philosophy, and spiritual writings. It is worth mentioning here that Benedictine monks, by virtue of this devotion, founded schools that developed into the cathedral schools and eventually the universities of Europe.
Critical Reading: In light of this heritage, Saint Vincent Seminary utilizes a critical reading program that incorporates elements of exegesis with lectio divina. The program implementation is as follows: new students have a weekly one hour formation conference throughout their first year to become familiar with various critical reading techniques, as well as methods in research and graduate level study skills. The center piece of this formation period is teaching students how to construct a divisio textus of a theological text. Faculty members are encouraged to utilize this exercise in their course work in order to cultivate in our students the critical reading skills necessary to grasp a text’s deeper meaning and literary structure.