Abuse Response Policies

Safeguarding All

Our formation integrates the human, pastoral, spiritual and intellectual dimensions of the Program of Priestly Formation. In a particular way, Saint Francis de Sales Seminary is committed to Safe Environment Education, and to forming priests who are dedicated to safeguarding all of God’s children. This training for our priests is a grave responsibility – a responsibility that we accept with the utmost seriousness and urgency. Our efforts contribute to the ongoing work of the Church in the Unites States to carry out the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The entire formation program at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary serves this task. The following processes and sessions are some specific ways that we seek to fulfill our duty to form men who are equipped and devoted to protect children and young people.

Admission to the Seminary

The vetting and admissions process, especially the psychological exam, ensure that the men who are accepted have, among other criteria, the necessary psychological well-being and healthy sexual integration which are foundations for freely and joyfully embracing a life of chaste celibacy.

Forming Men of Communion

Formation sessions, formation advising, spiritual direction, and counseling (if necessary) all seek, as a goal, to form each seminarian into a man of communion – a man capable of entering into deep and healthy relationships with God and others, and thus able to serve as a spiritual father. A man of communion must exhibit the following human qualities:

  • Personal maturity
  • Affective maturity
  • Prudential judgement
  • Personal initiative and generosity
  • Freedom
  • Honesty and openness
  • Flexibility
  • Joy and inner peace
  • Interpersonal skills
Comprehensive Training in Human Sexuality and Celibacy

Formation sessions, academic classes, workshops, formation advising, spiritual direction, and counseling (if necessary) provide men with a comprehensive training in human sexuality and celibacy. Seminarians receive formation in:

  1. The physiological and psychological understanding of human sexuality.
  2. The fullness of the Christian vision of the virtue of chastity.
  3. The requisite skills and means for living chaste celibacy well, which includes:
  • Ascetical practice
  • Prudent self-mastery
  • Paths of self-knowledge
  • Genuine friendship
  • Priestly fraternity
  • A mentoring relationship
  • Spiritual direction
  • Priestly asceticism
  • The sacrament of Penance
  • Holy solitude
Safe Environment Training and Education

Seminarians also receive specific Safe Environment training and education:

  1. Every seminarian attends and receives a certificate acknowledging completion of Safe Environment Education (SEE).
  2. Annually, seminarians read and sign a Rule of Life, which outlines unacceptable behaviors and activities, and clearly defines a procedure for disciplinary action and accountability.
  3. Annually, seminarians (re)read and sign the Code of Ethical Standards for Church Leaders and Mandatory Reporting Responsibilities for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
  4. Annually, seminarians complete and sign a website disclosure form. Seminarians must disclose any virtual communities/social networking sites of which they are a member. Any non-disclosure discovered can be grounds for dismissal.
  5. Annual in-person audit for compliance to Dallas Charter and Safe Environment.
  6. New resources provided to seminarians on this topic as they become available.

For more information, please view our catalog.

Sexual Misconduct Policies

In addition to ensuring that we are forming priests dedicated to safeguarding all of God’s children, Saint Francis de Sales Seminary is also committed to ensuring the safety of our seminarians from sexual misconduct. We have a comprehensive policy for responding to sexual abuse and harassment. The policy aligns with the national benchmarks outlined on November 9, 2020 by the Seminary Study Group from McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.

1. Systematic Training – Annual training on sexual harassment policies and reporting procedures include sessions upon starting seminary and throughout all years of formation.

2. Reporting and Investigation – Seminarians are strongly encouraged to report any concerns internally to their spiritual advisor, formation advisor, diocesan vocation director, diocesan vicar for clergy, and/or the rector, with full confidence that they will be supported. Seminarians have also been given contact information for Convercent, an outside agency that is retained to provide an avenue for external, third party reporting. Seminary staff or other concerned individuals may contact Convercent as well. All reports are reviewed by an impartial third party to determine appropriate action.

Report Misconduct

3. Victim Support – Support is offered by the spiritual advisor, formation advisor and/or rector. In addition, seminarians have access to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s victim assistance coordinator.

4. Proactivity – Formation sessions and community meetings are held to ensure understanding of policies and encourage a supportive environment. Each seminarian has an annual meeting with the rector and regular meetings with their formation advisors, offering the opportunity for frank discussion about concerns and the health of the seminary community. The formation faculty formally evaluates the Seminary’s policies and practices annually, while monitoring their effectiveness throughout the year. The faculty also thoroughly evaluates each seminarian on a yearly basis.

5. Consistency and Portability – Policies are presented annually and adjusted as situations dictate to address local conditions including teaching parish assignments, societal ministries and other off-campus programs. Sponsoring vocation directors and bishops also make regular visits to ensure the integral formation of all seminarians and the health of the seminary community.

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