The life of a seminarian is brimming with activities. His academic coursework is a full-time commitment, and he spends several hours a week at his teaching parish. Societal ministry, clinical pastoral education, Spanish immersion, and a host of other obligations must also be taken into account. And if that isn’t enough, he even has chores around the Seminary!
Interwoven through it all, however, is his overarching priority – spiritual formation. As our respected director of spiritual formation, Father Tom DeVries, puts it:
The spiritual formation of a seminarian goes to the very heart of his vocation to the priesthood. It seeks to form him into a man who lives in intimate communion with God; who lives each day with the awareness of God’s presence within him.
By assisting the seminarian to build a strong prayer life, to grow in a life of virtue and service, to experience God's mercy, and to recognize and reverence God's providence in his life, spiritual formation helps the seminarian conform his heart more nearly to the heart of Christ. Spiritual formation is teh core which animates and susttains his life as a seminarian and his future life as a priest.
Saint Francis de Sales Seminary helps men to deepen their spirituality through these offerings, which are considered essential:
• Daily Mass and Liturgy of the Hours
• Daily holy hour and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
• Personal prayer and meditation
• Weekly opportunity for confession
• Marian devotion, especially the rosary
• Regular spiritual direction
• Annual community retreat
• Priest and deacon ordination retreats
• Spiritual renewal days and Eucharistic days each semester
It may seem like a lot to fit into a busy seminarian’s life, but these are the priorities around which everything else is scheduled, and the seminarians appreciate it!
Deacon Kyle Laylan (La Crosse) explains, “In discerning the vocation to be a priest, I have come to see how necessary it is to continually allowmy will to be conformed to Christ’s will. Spiritual formation helps me to see those areas in my life where I still do not permit God to enter – those areas where I seek my own will and not God’s will. Spiritual formation continually pushes me to turn myself back towards Christ.”
Deacon Jonathon Schmeckel (Milwaukee) agrees, finding great help from individual spiritual direction. “It is one of the most important aspects of both seminary life and priestly life. It guides me to see where God is active in my life, where I fail to see him, and even where I might be trying to avoid him!”
Daniel Tracy (Superior) appreciates the retreats and silent days of reflection. “Silence is huge! And, the retreat James Cardinal Harvey led for us at the beginning of the school year was incredible.”
Matthew Ferch (Milwaukee) sums it up this way, “The spiritual formation program at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary is comprehensive, informative, and one of the best around. It has helped me immensely. The program never loses sight that God is at the center of our lives, discernment and vocation.”
Forming holy priests is what we are all about. Our highly acclaimed spiritual formation program is just one example of our commitment to excellence.
Thank you for your generosity in supporting our mission. This year, eight of our seminarians will be ordained to the priesthood. Please help us keep the momentum going! Your gift to Saint Francis de Sales Seminary ensures that the next generation will have priests formed in the image of Jesus Christ.
Grace and Peace,
Father John Hemsing
James Cardinal Harvey led a five-day retreat for our seminarians.