Pastoral Formation

Pastoral Formation

Build Essential Skills

"The whole formation imparted to candidates for the priesthood aims at preparing them to enter into communion with the charity of Christ the Good Shepherd; therefore 'priestly formation must be permeated by a pastoral spirit'" (Pastores dabo vobis 57; Program of Priestly Formation 366; Ratio fundamentalis 119).

Pastoral formation is the culmination of the entire formation process, and the Program of Priestly Formation designates its basic principle: "The whole training of the students should have as its object to make them true shepherds of souls after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, teacher, priest, and shepherd" (Optatam totius 4; PPF 369). Pastoral formation at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary provides a prayerful, reflective, and instructive program where seminarians integrate personal and academic knowledge with the skills and abilities that will be needed to be true shepherds of souls.

Saint Francis de Sales Seminary provides opportunities for seminarians to minister at approved and supervised sites. These include:

  • Societal ministry
  • Teaching parish
  • Clinical Pastoral Education
  • Apostolic charity

Pastoral formation challenges seminarians, requiring them to become more mature and effective ministers of the Gospel. They develop an ability to recognize how God is actively and profoundly present within every life experience through theological reflection. Such insights prepare them to serve the Church and the parish community as pastors.

Teaching Parish Program

The Teaching Parish Program is an essential element of pastoral formation at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary. Seminarians serve regularly at an assigned teaching parish during their years in the configuration stage. This model offers seminarians the opportunity to serve in the life of a parish consistently, which enhances their preparation for priestly ministry. The primary goal of the program is to help seminarians integrate the formation they receive at the Seminary with real world experience. Seminarians in the Teaching Parish Program will be involved in the following areas of parish life during the four-year process:

  • Liturgy
  • RCIA/adult formation
  • Catechesis/child and youth ministry
  • Evangelization
  • Human concerns
  • Administration

Seminarians are held accountable through an ongoing formal evaluation process that includes feedback from the teaching parish's pastor, pastoral staff, and teaching parish committee, which is composed of select parishioners. Seminarians are required to meet regularly with their supervisors and the teaching parish committee to review and discuss goals, accomplishments, and areas of further growth. They also maintain a log of hours served at the parish, which is reviewed, collected, and filed for credit each semester.

To supplement the program, seminarians have regular formation seminars at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary with the director of pastoral formation. Seminars include reflection and discussion on ministerial experiences and parish life and presentations by pastoral leaders. In addition to these seminars, seminarians take two courses that  orient the seminarian to parish life and ministry.

Before beginning any pastoral formation experiences, seminarians:

  • Must be in full compliance with the archdiocese's Safeguarding All of God's Family and must have completed the Safe Environment Education training,.
  • Must sign an acknowledgment form stating that they have read and understood the Code of Ethical Standards for Church Leaders and the mandatory reporting responsibilities.
  • Must have had a criminal background check as part of the admissions process.

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