Human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation are to be understood in a unified and integrated sense. They are neither discrete nor layered dimensions of priestly existence, but interrelated aspects of a human response to God’s transforming grace. Accordingly, at Kenrick School of Theology, all members of the seminary community are simultaneously engaged in all four dimensions of priestly formation.
The point of integration must necessarily be the candidate himself. The program of preparation at Kenrick School of Theology is designed to graduate a man of character, holiness, pastoral understanding, and pastoral effectiveness—an ardent but gentle priest. Candidates begin the program already blessed in these qualities. The extent to which they harmonize these qualities and bring them to maturity depends on their own resolve and their cooperation with grace.
After the model of Christ, the Incarnate Word, the program of human formation seeks to ensure that the character and human personality of the priest render him a man of communion, that is, a bridge or an instrument, not an obstacle, in mediating the redemptive gifts of God to His people (PPF, n. 75). The heart of this formation is an ongoing growth in the practice of the virtues, lived out in the context of the priestly vocation.
Human formation uncovers the foundation of (n. 82):
- Spiritual formation, as it fosters development of the virtues and personal qualities that grace perfects in building on nature.
- Intellectual formation, as it fosters development of the human qualities of perceptiveness, analysis, and good judgment as a basis for conducting theological study.
- Pastoral formation, as it fosters development of the skills, the character, and the commitment that enable the candidate to exercise a service-minded ministry.
After the model of Christ, the loving Son of the Father, spiritual formation seeks to ensure that the priest lives in an intimate and unceasing union with God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. The heart of this formation is conversion and discipleship, lived out in ecclesial communion in the spirit of the beatitudes (n. 108).
Spiritual formation imparts a form to (n. 112):
- Human formation, as it both assumes and fosters development of a basic relational capacity with God and with others.
- Intellectual formation, as it provides opportunities for a loving experience of the mysteries that theology investigates.
- Pastoral formation, as it presses candidates to an ever more affective and effective pastoral charity.
After the model of Christ the Teacher, intellectual formation prolongs a post-baptismal mystagogia, in this case not simply for personal benefit but for service in the community of faith (n. 137). The heart of this formation is an integral Christian faith, embracing both authentic belief and authentic conduct.
Intellectual formation yields an understanding of (n. 164):
- Human formation, as it fosters development of human intelligence as a perfection of the self and as a service to the community of faith.
- Spiritual formation, as it deepens and broadens the candidate’s spiritual life by affording content, criteria, and historic witnesses to spiritual growth.
- Pastoral formation, as it engenders a comprehensive understanding of the mystery of faith, as well as the skills to engage in an evangelization of culture.
After the model of Christ the Good Shepherd, pastoral formation seeks to foster the knowledge and skill to teach and to preach, to celebrate the sacraments, to respond to pastoral needs, and to take the initiatives required by leadership (n. 238). The heart of this formation is the priestly character, a life poured out in pastoral charity, with a sense of zeal and joy.
Pastoral formation synthesizes an expression of (n. 241):
- Human formation, as it allows candidates to being to experience themselves as points of connection between God and His people.
- Spiritual formation, as it expresses the spiritual fruitfulness of the ministry, which both demands and furthers vital union with Christ.
- Intellectual formation, as it provides the experience of a ministerial context that allows reality-testing and raises further questions for inquiry.