Formation at
St. Gregory the Great Seminary

Areas of Priestly Formation

Through human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation, St. Gregory the Great Seminary seeks to “protect and develop the seeds of a priestly vocation, so that the students may more easily recognize it and be in a better position to respond to it” (John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis, 63). As they discern the authenticity of God’s call to the priesthood in their lives, the seminarians are prepared by theSeminary program of formation to pursue theological studies in preparation for ordination to the sacred ministry.

Propaedeutic Stage of Formation

Following the promulgation of the Ratio Fundamentalis and the 6th Edition of the Program of Priestly Formation, St. Gregory the Great Seminary has established two distinct, but complementary stages of seminary formation. Due to a variety of factors facing young men in the 21st Century, the Church has deemed it necessary to institute an initial preparatory stage of formation (see PPF, 17-22). This initial stage, entitled the Propaedeutic Stage “seeks to provide seminarians with the basic groundwork they need to engage in priestly formation.” (PPF, 119) The Propaedeutic Stage, which focuses in large part on the human and spiritual dimension of formation, nonetheless has intellectual and pastoral components. The coursework of the Propaedeutic Stage will provide seminarians with a basic understanding of the Catholic Faith, prayer, and fundamental components of applied psychology. The duration of this first stage of formation is to be one year. The integration of formation into a seminarian’s life and his suitability for advancement to the Discipleship stage is to be judged according to the benchmarks provided in the Program of Priestly Formation.

Discipleship Stage of Formation

The Discipleship Stage of formation follows the Propaedeutic Stage. In the Discipleship Stage, the seminarian is to continue the growth begun in the Propaedeutic Stage. The four dimensions of formation take one a more balanced presence in this second period of formation.The Discipleship encompasses what was previously the 2 or 4 years of priestly formation provided by St. Gregory the Great Seminary. The goal of this stage is to provide a systematic and rigorous formation that has at its core the goal of growing in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ through the life of meditation and contemplation, as well as the training of one’s character in Christian virtue, so as to lay a solid foundation for future stages. The study of philosophy occurs during the discipleship stage.” (PPF, 132). As in the Propaedeutic Stage, so seminarians in the Discipleship Stage are judged suitable for advancement to the next stage of formation, the Configuration Stage insofar as they have satisfactorily achieved the Discipleship Stage benchmarks in all four areas of formation.

Human Formation

Human formation is the “necessary foundation” of priestly formation. (PDV.43). Through regular conferences, the guided experience of community life, and the study of the liberal arts with its ability to integrate the student’s understanding of the human experience, the students are assisted in their growth as human persons and as followers of Jesus Christ. They are helped to understand their humanity, their strengths, and their need for growth as they progress in personal and spiritual maturity.They are aided in discerning the reality of God’s call to the priesthood, and their willingness and ability to answer this call. Seminarians are challenged to explore the demands of priestly life and ministry and to develop those natural and supernatural virtues that will be required.

Guidance by formation advisors in individual meetings and collectively in the annual review will help provide insights and recommendations to assist the seminarians in their growth.

Spiritual Formation

Seminarians at St. Gregory the Great Seminary are assisted in a process of ordered growth in their relationship with God, whom they aspire to serve as priests. Spiritual formation is centered in the Word of God and the sacramental life of the Church. The celebration of the Eucharist is the high point of each day in which the seminarians encounter the Lord in Word and Sacrament. The daily praying of portions of the Liturgy of the Hours establishes a rhythm of the community at prayer. The regular celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation assists the continual call to conversion of life by personal repentance and ready recourse to the mercy of God. Devotional and private prayer in the rich heritage of the Catholic Church is provided and encouraged in order to foster in the seminarian a deep personal attachment to theLord and His Church. Such devotions include Eucharistic Adoration, meditation on the Word of God, and devotion to Mary and the saints. Spiritual conferences and personal spiritual direction provide the seminarian with guidance and necessary information as he enters more deeply into a relationship with God.

Intellectual Formation

St. Gregory the Great Seminary provides an academic program of study for undergraduate students. Through a liberal arts curriculum, the students are challenged with a breadth of understanding of past and present deeds, words, and ideas, and their interpretation within the heritage of the Catholic Church. Philosophy is the major field of study for all students. In conformity with the directives of the Second Vatican Council and the practice of the Church, the students study philosophy in light of the moderate realism of St. Thomas Aquinas. In this way, they are prepared appropriately for the study of theology at the graduate level. The study of history, literature, theology, modern and ancient languages, as well as courses in science, mathematics, education, and fine arts, join with philosophy to provide a well-rounded undergraduate program of study which culminates in the awarding of a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy. St. Gregory the Great Seminary also provides an integrated and focused program of study for those who have already earned an undergraduate degree from a non-seminary college. The core of this pre-theology program will be the study of philosophy with emphasis on the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. Also included are other areas of study necessary or beneficial for graduate theological study.

Pastoral Formation

Students aspiring to the Catholic priesthood are preparing for the time when they will enter the pastoral ministry. St. Gregory the Great Seminary provides for practical preparation for the ministry through a suitable pastoral apprenticeship. Through assignments in pastoral work appropriate to their level of formation, seminarians are given opportunities to exercise the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, to give of their time and energy in service, and to grow in their understanding of the role of the priest in service to the People of God. The program of pastoral formation provides a plan of apostolate assignments, appropriate supervision, evaluation, and theological reflection to facilitate the connection of their pastoral experience with their studies, formation, and discernment of a priestly vocation.