August 11, 2023

Bishop Bruté College Seminary launches new initial formation program

Father Andrew Syberg stands on Aug. 1 in a new chapel for first-year seminarians at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Father Andrew Syberg stands on Aug. 1 in a new chapel for first-year seminarians at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

On Aug. 4, a group of new seminarians moved into Bishop Simon Bruté Seminary in Indianapolis two weeks before the rest of the seminary community.

The eight seminarians, six of them from the archdiocese, are in their first year at Bishop Bruté and are participating in its new propaedeutic (pro-pih-DOO-tic) program.

This is a new stage in seminary formation mandated by the sixth edition of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Program for Priestly Formation (PPF), which began to be implemented last year.

The propaedeutic stage is designed to help new seminarians to get a firmer grounding in human and spiritual formation before entering more fully into philosophy courses and pastoral ministry assignments.

(Related story: New stage for seminarians focuses on human and spiritual formation)

Father Andrew Syberg, Bishop Bruté’s vice rector, oversees its propaedeutic program and led the preparation for it.

He said the PPF’s focus on human formation in the propaedeutic stage is especially appropriate for incoming college seminarians who, in most cases, are still teenagers.

“How many of us, when we were 18 years old, knew ourselves really well?” Father Syberg said. “These are skills that everybody needs to learn as they’re getting older. The advantage here is that I’m going to be asking them the questions on a regular basis.”

The propaedeutic seminarians at Bishop Bruté will have the added benefit of not taking challenging philosophy courses at nearby Marian University where all Bishop Bruté seminarians are enrolled. In the propaedeutic program at Bishop Bruté, the seminarians only take general education classes.

“Using the propaedeutic year to kind of slow down intellectually is a good thing,” Father Syberg said. “We’ll try to shape these guys as young men. In college seminary, you’re moving from boyhood to manhood. It’s time to leave the high school mentality behind.”

The propaedeutic program will also focus on the seminarians’ spiritual formation through their worshipping together most days in their own chapel.

They’ll also have three retreat experiences duirng the yearlong program.

“It’s going to invite them and encourage them to engage in the spiritual life a lot more,” Father Syberg said. “It’s going to reinforce how they ask themselves the right questions about what’s going on in them interiorly and coming to a greater self-knowledge and self-awareness.”

Father Syberg, speaking with The Criterion before the program launched, shared his excitement about going from planning the propaedeutic stage to seeing it work in the lives of the new seminarians.

“I can’t wait. I think it’s a great idea,” he said. “We might get a month into the year and say, ‘We need to change that.’ But we’re ready and willing to accept that. It might be two or three years before we finally get everything ironed out. That’s just part of the process of any program you’re trying to establish.”

(For more information on Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis, visit

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