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 ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people's night, into the darkness, but without getting lost. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.
St John’s follows a Pastoral Formation programme that seeks to implement the vision of the Church, in light of the most recent pronouncements alongside the often complex pastoral challenges of the present day.
Seminarians attend fortnightly meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as visiting guests. This enables developing listening and empathetic skills, non-judgmental listening, and an understanding of the journey of recovery and conversion that is integral to all 12 step programmes.
Seminarians attend a weekly placement in one of the local Catholic Primary Schools, working with teachers to offer spiritual support and development to both children and staff.
Seminarians work alongside lay chaplains and teachers within the RE departments of two local Catholic Secondary Schools. This provides opportunities for catechesis, faith sharing, the telling of their vocation stories, and for understanding the importance of the pastoral care of students and staff. Weekly pastoral Seminars in the Seminary are an opportunity for theological and pastoral reflection on these experiences.
Extended Pastoral Placement (EPP)
Seminarians complete a year-long Extended Pastoral Placement (EPP) in a parish within their Diocese. They benefit from monthly return visits to St John’s, and take part in in-depth pastoral reflection Seminars on all that they are experiencing on their placement.
Years five & six
During these final academic years Seminarians will participate in a weekly specialised placement: Prison chaplaincy, Hospital chaplaincy or some other specialised placement within a local parish.
The Priestly Life & Ministry Programme of four 6-week modules, delivered by various practitioners is valued by the Year 6 Seminarians. The modules offer an integrated and cohesive programme and reflect directly on recommendations from The Ratio. The modules cover: Gift and Challenge of Priestly Ministry; Family Life Ministry; Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation; Mission and Missionary Spirituality; Ecumenism and Inter-Faith Dialogue; Listening Skills & Conflict Resolution; Supporting the Bereaved & Dying in a Parish Context; plus many other practical areas of priestly ministry.
SUMMER PASTORAL PLACEMENTS
In addition to the above, each summer the Seminarians (with the exception of year four) will complete a parish placement of several weeks within their home Diocese. This gives them an opportunity to get to know the Clergy and the people of their Diocese a little better and to open themselves up to further pastoral experiences.