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: 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.

Program Components:

  • Every student is assigned an academic advisor for schedule planning, registration, tutoring, and academic mentoring;
  • Pre-theology I students have a year-long formation conference that covers research methodology, paper writing for graduate level theology, study skills, etc.;
  • First Theologians have a semester long formation conference in the fall introducing them to critical reading and textual analysis. In the spring semester, they are introduced to the basic principles and skills of biblical exegesis in the Catholic tradition;
  • A tutoring and writing lab is available to students 15 hours a week;
  • A fully accredited Integrated Language Study (ILS — formerly ESL) program is available to any international student in need of assistance.

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