Formation & Theological Foundations

Program of Formation

The mission of the seminary will be realized by placing spiritual formation at the heart of seminary lifeiii, seeking to assure the readiness, ability, and willingness of each seminarian to be united with Christ—prophet, priest, and king—in the ministerial priesthood for the salvation of all. An integrated program of Human Formation, Spiritual Formation, Intellectual Formation, and Pastoral Formation assists each seminarian in freely uniting himself to the Heart of Christ. This integrated program of formation prepares the seminarian to receive and exercise the pastoral charity of Christ by embracing the gifts and responsibilities of the following identities: Beloved Son, Chaste Spouse, Spiritual Father, Spiritual Physician, and Good Shepherd.iv

Human Formation is centered on the Person of Jesus Christ, the Word made fleshv, so that each candidate may become an apt instrument of Christ’s grace. By growing in affective maturity, the seminarian is prepared to donate his life in imitation of Jesus, thus becoming a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their encounter with God.vi

Spiritual Formation is centered on living in intimate and unceasing union with God the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, so that the candidate might be rooted ever more deeply in the foundational call to discipleship and conversion of heart. Those who desire to share the mission of Christ, as the apostles did, must first acquire the listening and learning heart of disciples.vii

Intellectual Formation is centered on deepening each candidate’s knowledge of the Divine Mysteries of the Catholic Faith through a systematic, organic, and dynamically orthodox method of Catholic philosophy and theology. Acquiring a knowledge of Jesus Christ through personal encounter and study, the seminarian will be ready to share and teach the Catholic Faith for the salvation of his brothers and sisters.viii

Pastoral Formation is centered on preparing each candidate to stand and act in the community in the name and person of Jesus Christ, Head and Shepherd of the Church,ix through evangelization, service, and sacramental ministry, pre-eminently in the Eucharist.

Theological Foundations

The program of formation is rooted in the following theological foundations:

Trinitarian foundation, centered in the Heart of Jesus: The foundational call to discipleship and conversion of heart “is to live in intimate and unceasing union with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.”x A spirituality focused on the Heart of Jesus is foundational, since each candidate must learn to enter into Trinitarian relationships through the priestly Heart of Jesus.

Christological foundation, focused on configuration in persona Christi: Configuration to Jesus Christ as Head and Shepherd is foundational, since priests are commissioned to continue His threefold mission in persona Christi Capitis.xi

Pneumatological foundation, the Holy Spirit as the primary Formator and source of holiness: Along with all the faithful, priests are called to grow in holiness by cooperating with the work of the Spirit, thereby living out their baptismal call as disciples of Jesus Christ. In addition, however, priests are called to a specific vocation to holiness as the Spirit configures them to Christ as Head and Shepherd of the Church.xii Because of this, increasing familiarity with and receptivity to the Holy Spirit as the primary source of formation and holiness is essential.

Ecclesiological foundation: The priest’s specific configuration to Christ as Head and Shepherd also brings about a special relationship with His Body, the Church. Because his participation in Christ’s priesthood is “ministerial”—for the sanctification of the members of the Body—it aims to promote the exercise of the common priesthood of the entire people of Godxiii in communion with Mary and all the saints.

Eucharistic foundation: The Eucharist is the source, center, and summit of the life of a priest; his pastoral charity flows in a special way to and from the Eucharistic sacrifice. Like the priest, the seminarian must penetrate ever more deeply into the mystery of Christ through prayer, letting his own heart be conformed to what takes place on the altar of sacrifice.xiv

Koinonia/Communion Foundation: The ordained ministry has a radical communitarian form. Its Trinitarian, Christological, Pneumatological, Ecclesiological, and Eucharistic principles become real and operative in a presbyterate in communion with its bishop. Therefore, it can only be carried out as a collaborative work within a presbyterate, each and all together acting in communion with the local bishop, with and under Peter, according to the principle of obedience. Since priests ought to develop and foster bonds of fraternity and cooperation among themselves, so that the reality of the presbyterate may take hold of their lives, each candidate ought to show a similar spirit in relation to the seminary community. This is a sign of his desire and ability to enter the life of a presbyterate.xv

Contemplata aliis traderexvi

The faculty and staff are being formed by the Holy Spirit to help each seminarian become a man of prayer in persona Christi Capitis who, by his unique configuration to the Heart of Christ, prophet, priest, and king, will lead his parishes to become schools of prayer, centers of evangelization, and communities of charity.

Ongoing Formationxvii

The seminary will prepare each seminarian for a life of ongoing formation as a priest in all the dimensions of formation, Human, Spiritual, Intellectual, and Pastora, and provide resources for ongoing priestly formation.

2012 Priesthood Ordination

iii Program of Priestly Formation (PPF) 115.
iv Following Saint Thomas Aquinas’ method of analyzing a virtue, these can be understood as necessary conditions of the fruitful exercise of the virtue of pastoral charity.
v Pastores dabo vobis (PDV) 5; PPF 74.
vi PDV 43; PPF 75-6.
vii PDV 45; PPF 107.
viii PDV 51; PPF 137.
ix PPF 237.
x PDV 45; see also PDV 12; PPF 15.
xi PDV 15; PPF 16.
xii PDV 19-20; PPF 21.
xiii PDV 16; PPF 17.
xiv Presbyterorum Ordinis (PO) 14.
xv PDV 17; PPF 18.
xvi “For even as it is better to enlighten than merely to shine, so is it better to give to others the fruits of one’s contemplation than merely to contemplate.” Sicut enim maius est illuminare quam lucere solum, ita maius est contemplata aliis tradere quam solum contemplari. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, Q. 188, a 6.
xvii PPF 370; PDV 71; USCCB, Basic Plan for Ongoing Formation of Priests.