"The whole formation imparted to candidates for the priesthood aims at preparing them to enter into communion with the charity of Christ the Good Shepherd. Hence, their formation in its different aspects must have a fundamentally pastoral character” (PPF, n. 236; PDV, n. 57).
A number of essential elements in pastoral formation at the college seminary level include:
- The seminarian needs to understand that the proclamation of God’s Word is the first task of the priest (Presbyterorum Ordinis, n. 4). Bringing God’s Word through preaching and teaching requires that the seminarian “couple the deepest convictions of faith with the development of his communication skills so that God’s Word may be effectively expressed” (PPF, n. 239).
- Sacramental dimension: Although the seminarian cannot celebrate the sacraments as a priest does, he can accompany priests who do and he can prepare those who participate in them (n. 239). Seminarians at Cardinal Glennon College are encouraged to assist at Holy Mass in cassock and surplice when they are home at their parish, especially on Sundays, in such roles as acolyte, reader, or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. Or, if such roles have already been assigned to others, the seminarian can assist in a less formal Master of Ceremonies role. Having the seminarian present in the sanctuary can remind the faithful to pray for vocations, and can encourage other young people to consider a call to the priesthood or consecrated life. This experience also gives the seminarian a sense of future priestly ministry.
- Community dimension: The pastor is to be a man of communion and shepherd of a flock. Although limited in the amount of time which he can commit outside the seminary, the college seminarian is still encouraged to be involved in activities in his parish and diocese, when possible. The college seminarian should also recognize that the seminary itself is his community. This requires his attention and care through generous use of his talents and abilities to build up the community of men with whom he lives, prays, studies, and serves.
- Initiation to various practical, pastoral experiences: Seminarians at Cardinal Glennon College are provided various weekly opportunities for Christian service outside the college community. These experiences (referred to as “Apostolic Service”) include ministry to the sick and elderly, to troubled youth, to the poor, to the hospitalized, and the teaching apostolate. Reflections upon these experiences focus attention on compassion for the suffering, sensitivity for the poor, and the importance of the catechetical work of the Church.