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.