Seminary Life and Human Formation
One of many important aspects to the formation of men preparing for the priesthood is an acute awareness of life in community and the development of relationships. Mount St. Mary's Seminary strives to provide seminarians with the support and direction necessary to enhance their relationship with Jesus Christ and the Roman Catholic Church while developing lasting bonds of fraternity through prayer, study, pastoral work and in-house activity. This is modeled for them by the seminary faculty in the classroom, chapel, refectory, lounge, gym and in the parish. The seminary is our home; like the Holy Family we pray that all who live, work and study at the seminary will continue to grow together in wisdom, grace and virtue before God and one another.
The Program of Priestly Formation reminds us that "community life affords the opportunity for the development of leadership skills and individual talents. It can also motivate seminarians to develop a sense of self-sacrifice and a spirit of collaboration" (304). The life of a seminary house is for their benefit and the Church's benefit. Therefore, each seminarian must bring his own life to the house in a spirit of openness to the richness of blessings available in community. As a good steward, a seminarian will be entrusted with the responsibility modeling the call to community in his life as a diocesan priest. Proverbs teaches us, "He who confers benefits will be amply enriched, and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed" (11:25). The gift of formation within a community of prayer, education, service and relationship provides for seminarians a concrete, daily affirmation of the humble admission in the Prayer of St. Francis- it is truly in giving that we receive.
"The basic principle of human formation is to be found in Pastores dabo vobis no. 43: the human personality of the priest is to be a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ the Redeemer of the human race. As the humanity of the Word made flesh was the instrumentum salutis, so the humanity of the priest is instrumental in mediating the redemptive gifts of Christ to people today…[H]uman formation is the 'necessary foundation' of priestly formation" (PPF 75).
At Mount St. Mary's Seminary, human formation is central to the life of the student. Clear benchmarks are articulated in this area so that the seminarians and the faculty are aware of the expectations as a student progresses in the program. Each seminarian is assigned a formation director who meets monthly with him. He also composes a set of goals at the beginning of each academic year. In the third quarter of each year, every student is formally evaluated by faculty, peers and the formation team.
The life lived in formation is lived in the day, by the week and through the month. This reflects the Church's understanding of the conforming of one's life to the tempo and rhythm of the Liturgy of Hours; but, even more, it reflects the Church's wisdom that habits form character and the horarium of the day forms habits. Our goal in the organization of our day at Mount St. Mary's Seminary is to help form those habits which build virtue and will contribute to a lifestyle after ordination that help sustain the priest in his life and ministry.