“To make good priests is the greatest
achievement in the world. It is impossible to
conceive of anything greater.”
St Vincent de Paul
A priest is someone called by Christ and sent out into the world to be a shepherd after His own Heart. But how do we at the seminary even begin to form another human being for such an extraordinary life?
We of course closely follow the teachings and instructions of the Church. But the first and fundamental truth is that God is at work in the Seminary. Our primary goal is to facilitate and encourage seminarians to be open to God so that His Spirit may heal, illumine and sanctify their hearts. We trust God to be the primary agent in formation.
The more a young man can be filled with the love of God, the more ardently will he love his people and the more fruitful his ministry will be.
So we begin the formation process with the spiritual year, the foundation for all the formation work done in the Seminary.
Seminarians are introduced to the basics of our Christian heritage. They are introduced to the Catechism, the foundations of Christian spirituality such as the practice of Lectio Divina and other forms of prayer, and they are introduced to the unique aspects of the life of a priest. They are instructed how to recognise the presence of Christ in their lives and to grow in self-knowledge and self-acceptance.
The spiritual year begins with a three-day retreat. Then, at Easter, the first years do an eight-day retreat and the spiritual year concludes with the thirty-day retreat following the spiritual exercises of St Ignatius Loyola.
With such a foundation, the seminarians and staff then seek to discern God’s will and, if it is discerned that a man does indeed possess signs of a vocation to the priesthood, he continues with the formation program. According to the teachings of St John Paul II in Pastores Dabo Vobis, there are four key areas to be covered in the formation of a priest:
- Human Formation
- Spiritual Formation
- Academic Formation
- Pastoral Formation