November 9, 2018

Spheres of priestly formation are interrelated

The “Program for Priestly Formation” (PPF) of the bishops in the U.S. contains the norms for priestly formation in this country and is based on the Vatican’s universal principles for priestly formation.

The PPF, which is approved by the Vatican, is regularly updated. The current edition of it was approved in 2005. The bishops in the U.S. are currently working on a new update.

The PPF identifies four interrelated spheres of formation which it describes as “pillars”: human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral.

Human formation—In this sphere, seminarians grow in the self‑understanding, emotional maturity and interrelationship skills needed for effective priestly ministry through formal programs in seminaries and informally through community life at the seminary.

Spiritual formation—In this sphere, seminarians seek to grow in union with God and priestly spirituality through conversion of heart, individual and communal prayer. It is furthered through daily Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, spiritual direction and retreats.

Intellectual formation—This sphere primarily involves classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

In the archdiocese, this takes place for college seminarians at Marian University where they receive a liberal arts education focusing primarily on philosophy and some theology courses. Archdiocesan college seminarians receive the rest of their formation at Bishop Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis.

Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad offers its own graduate level theology courses and some philosophy classes for seminarians who did not attend a college seminary.

Pastoral formation—In pastoral formation, seminarians seek to apply the formation they received in the other spheres to learn how to serve as a shepherd in the community of believers.

It is furthered through supervised pastoral ministry opportunities in parishes, hospitals, schools and other contexts, and by theological reflection on their experiences. †


Related: Demanding program of human formation shapes future priests amid Church crisis

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