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 Program of Priestly Formation (no. 241) notes, “Pastoral formation not only connects with the other three pillars of priestly formation, but in itself it provides a goal that integrates the other di­mensions. Human formation enables priests to be bridges to communicate Jesus Christ, a pastoral function. Spiritual formation enables priests to persevere in and give depth to their ministry. Intel­lectual formation provides criteria and content to ensure that pastoral efforts are directed correctly, properly, and effectively.”

Cultural Sensitivity: Pastoral formation can also engender cultural sensitivity and sensitivity for justice, charity, and the integrity of human life, as well as provide an opportunity for collaboration and an appreciation for religious pluralism (nos. 239, 251, 252).

Pastoral Leadership: Additional goals of the Pastoral Formation Program aim to help students develop a life-style that is consistent with the Gospel. In order to do so, one should strive to understand more fully the nature of the Church and its mission; to become more deeply committed to the Church’s mission; to develop the habit of reflecting theologically on experience; to acquire a beginning professional competence for priestly ministry, which involves appropriating one’s role as a spiritual leader and as a public per­son in the Church; and to develop the skills needed for effective priestly ministry. This objective is achieved by means of a two-year pastoral formation conference covering a variety of topics related to organizational leadership, management, crisis intervention, and other relevant topics. Additionally, this program offers two day-long pastoral leadership symposia each semester for second- to fourth-year theologians. These treat a cycle of specialized pastoral issues such as: marriage/natural family planning (NFP) preparation, faithful citizenship, adult faith formation, youth ministry, promoting vocations, family ministry, and parish bible studies.

Apostolic Work: Realistic pastoral formation is available in the Seminary’s priestly formation program, with numer­ous opportunities for apostolic work at a local homeless shelter, a food bank, a mental hospital, or a state prison. Various pro-life activities are also available as are field education opportunities in local parishes and other ministries under the supervision of qualified priests, religious, and lay profession­als. Apostolic work and field placement opportunities are unpacked through theological reflection to enhance learning opportunities for priesthood candidates. Each ministerial opportunity, in its own way, helps candidates to grow in ability and confidence to serve the people of God.

Pastoral Integration: GGrounded in the Gospel and sacred tradition, the pastoral emphasis of our priestly formation pro­gram echoes the Second Vatican Council’s pastoral concern for the Church in the world. This concern is particularly clear in the directive found in the Decree on Priestly Formation: “pastoral concern ought to permeate thoroughly the entire training of the students (no. 19).” The pastoral opportunities in our curriculum—and those extra-curricular works that support our cur­riculum—fulfill the requirements of the Program of Priestly Formation (no. 236) which states, “All four pillars go forward concurrently. Still, in a certain sense, pastoral formation is the culmination of the entire formation process.”

Field Education: Theological field education fosters general integration in the formation process. The field-education program is an integrating factor in seminary education forging a close link between ministerial, aca­demic and spiritual formation. Field education and work also provides an opportunity for ecumenical and interreligious cooperation, another of the Council’s pastoral concerns. It can also engender sen­sitivity for justice, peace and the integrity of human life and can provide an opportunity for collabora­tion, all of which are consistent with the pastoral vision of the Second Vatican Council.

In sum, the goals of field education are to assist students in:

  • Developing a lifestyle consistent with the Gospel;
  • Understanding more fully the nature of the Church and its mission;
  • Becoming more deeply committed to the Church’s mission;
  • Developing a habit of reflecting theologically on experience;
  • Acquiring a beginning professional competence for priestly ministry, which involves appro­priating the role of spiritual leaders and public persons in the Church; and
  • Developing the skills needed for effective priestly ministry, including sound liturgical proc­lamation.

Students register for field education with the approval of the Academic Dean and in consultation with the Director of Pastoral Formation.

Field Education Program

At Saint Vincent the pastoral formation of seminarians is built upon the pastoral foundation inherent in the entire curriculum, of which field education is an integral part. The purpose of field education is to engage students actively in parish and other ministries under the supervision of qualified priests, religious and lay professionals. Weekly theological reflection on ministry experiences is an essential component of the program.

Basic Components of Field Education Experiences

  • Engagement in ministry in an approved setting;
  • Supervision of the student’s ministry by a qualified supervisor;
  • Development of a Learning Agreement between the student and supervisor that defines the goals, objectives, tasks and resources for the ministry;
  • Theological reflection on ministry experiences;
  • Interaction with the Director of Pastoral Formation regarding the ministry experiences;
  • Completion by student and supervisor of a written evaluation at the end of the semester.
Ministry Opportunities

A list of specific placement possibilities is available from the Director of Pastoral Formation. The types of ministry available are the following: parochial activity, counseling, campus ministry at the college and high school level, and many other ministries.

Field Education Policies

Attire: In accord with the policy of the Diocese of Greensburg, students who are ordained deacons wear clerical attire when performing their ministries. Other students are requested to dress in a pro­fessional manner, i.e. dress trousers and dress shirts, when engaged in Field Education placements.

Credit: A minimum of 2 hours per week is required in a Ministry setting. In addition, one hour of theological reflection and ministry research is required.

Evaluation: In order that a student may grow in ministry and learn from experience, the student and supervisor are asked to evaluate the experience. At the end of the semester, written evaluations are completed by both the student and supervisor. These are shared and discussed and then forwarded to the Director of Pastoral Formation. These evaluations serve as a basis to challenge the student to further growth. Subsequently, these evaluations become part of the profile process and are sent to the student’s sponsor.

Grades: Students are given pass/fail grades for field education courses. Grades are awarded in ac­cord with the way in which the Learning Agreement has been fulfilled and are based on the following criteria:

  • Engagement in the ministry as agreed upon in the Learning Agreement;
  • Cooperation with the supervision process;
  • Completion of assigned tasks/readings, etc.;
  • Submission of written evaluations as required.

Learning Agreement: The Learning Agreement, decided upon by the supervisor, student and Direc­tor of Pastoral Formation, defines the goals of the practicum, the time of supervision, and the specific responsibilities of both student and supervisor, and establishes a method of accountability for the project.

Registration: Registration for field education is completed prior to the beginning of the semester so that the student is prepared to begin the placement the first week of the semester. The student registers for the practicum after consulting with his academic advisor and the Director of Pastoral Formation.

Supervision: As stated in the Program of Priestly Formation (5th ed., 2006, #248) supervision, theo­logical reflection, and evaluation are necessary components of an effective pastoral program. On-site supervisors should be carefully selected with emphasis on their dedication to the Church and respect for the priesthood.

Supervisors: Supervisors of Seminary students are chosen for their values, competence, knowledge in their field, and openness to serve as supervisors. Supervisors are oriented to the Field Education Program by the Director of Pastoral Formation. Since supervisors are trained to supervise in the area of their specialty, the Seminary has not needed to provide further supervisory training for them. The Seminary expects that supervisors:

  • Be skilled in their ministries and committed to their work;
  • Function in a teaching role with a student minister;
  • Receive the student into the ministry and assist the student to develop a Learning Agreement;
  • Meet with the student on a regular basis to discuss the student’s progress and needs;
  • Notify the Director of Pastoral Formation of any difficulty that may arise in the student’s ministry;
  • Complete an evaluation of the student at the end of the semester.

Theological Reflection: As noted in the Program of Priestly Formation (no. 239), in theological field education, reflection and integration are closely related. Theological reflection is critical for practical learning in a formational context. Students perceive how theology and the tradition of the Church shed light on the pastoral situations they experience. Theology is illumined in the process. Aca­demic work and pastoral ministry come to reinforce one another. This mutual interaction also helps seminarians to sense the presence of God in these experiences and to relate their life in Christ to the service of God’s people. Such learning can represent a significant moment of personal integration for seminarians as well.

Transportation: Students in all ministries are required to provide their own transportation to and from the ministry. This policy applies to all pastoral courses, including those structured into the cur­riculum.


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