Mention of The Gift of The Priestly Vocation in this section refers to the more user friendly title of the document produced by the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome in 2016: Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis - The Fundamentals of Priestly Formation. In some places in this section it may simply be referred to as The Ratio.
The first area of discernment is the personal life. It is necessary to integrate one’s own personal life. This means working humbly and ceaselessly on oneself, something that goes beyond mere introspection.
(The Gift of the Priestly Vocation 43)
The Human Formation programme seeks to create in the Seminary an environment that will promote and engender happy and healthy human beings who have a real self-knowledge, a deep personal integrity, and who are being well prepared for the challenging realities of pastoral life and ministry. This task, enunciated in the vision of The Gift of The Priestly Vocation and other related documents of the Church, impacts on all areas of formation and, especially in the links with spiritual and pastoral formation. Below is a summary of the key elements of the Human Formation programme.
Seminarians complete a year-long Introduction to Human Formation, exploring the basic terminology, an introduction to some of the psychological and scientific theories of stages of development and personality, and an understanding of some of the difficulties of human development.
Seminarians complete a year-long course on Human Sexuality and Learning to Live a Fruitful Celibate Life. This course provides a good comprehensive overview of the relevant issues, with plenty of opportunity for the sharing of experience and group reflection.
Other development opportunities
There are plenty of overlaps with the moral theology courses being taught in Year 1, Year 3, and Year 5. Also, much of the content of the Priestly Life & Ministry modules in Year 6 have very clear links to human development and healthy and effective ministry. Various residential weekends away also give time and opportunity for year groups to explore themes of human development.
Each Seminarian has a one-to-one meeting every fortnight with one of several external Human Formation tutors who support our work here at St John’s. These meetings take place in the Seminary and offer, within the internal forum (which means that what is discussed is confidential but within the limits envisaged in normal Counselling), a valuable space for personal growth.
Integrity of formation
It is important to build strong connections between human formation and the work of both spiritual and pastoral formation. We seek to prepare pastoral priests who will be ready, within the realities of the Church of today, for healthy and effective ministry. For this to happen, we must ensure strong connections are made between initial formation in the Seminary and on-going priestly formation, and particularly that there are good structures of support as well as healthy accountability for the recently ordained.