Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pillars of Seminary Formation: The Goals of Human Formation (From the 5th Edition of the Program for Priestly Formation)

Every seminary must have a program of human formation appropriate to the stage of the candidates’ preparation, which seeks to prepare men to be bridges for, not obstacles to, the spread of the Gospel. The identity to be fostered in the candidate is that he becomes a man of communion, that is, someone who makes a gift of himself and is able to receive the gift of others. He needs integrity and self-possession in order to make such a gift. The capacity to be fostered is the affective ability to engage in pastoral leadership with Jesus as the model shepherd.

This program must have a clear focus on the ordained priesthood as a vocation that brings the candidates to full human and spiritual potential through love of God and service of others.

The Goals of Human Formation

The qualities to be fostered in a human formation program are freedom, openness, honesty and flexibility, joy and inner peace, generosity and justice, personal maturity, interpersonal skills, common sense, aptitude for ministry, and growth “in moral sensibility and character.”

Candidates should give evidence of having interiorized their seminary formation. Growth in self-awareness and sound personal identity are the hallmarks of a healthy personality that establishes a secure basis for the spiritual life. Such growth may be demonstrated by sound prudential judgment; sense of responsibility and personal initiative; a capacity for courageous and decisive leadership; an ability to establish and maintain wholesome friendships; and an ability to work in a collaborative, professional manner with women and men, foregoing self-interests in favor of cooperative effort for the common good.

The Candidate for Human Formation

Candidates bear the primary responsibility for their human formation. The role of the seminary is to assist them in achieving the aims of the Program of Priestly Formation.

The candidate’s human formation in the seminary is very much affected by the character formation he has received in his family, cultural background, and society. Just as the seminary recognizes that the positive qualities of a seminarian’s prior formation can both indicate a vocation and provide a solid foundation for further growth, it should also address possible deficiencies in the candidate’s earlier formation and find means to address them.

Human formation programs in the seminary should begin with the assumption that the candidates have the potential to move from self-preoccupation to an openness to transcendent values and a concern for the welfare of others; a history of sound and rewarding peer relationships; an ability to be honest with themselves and with others; and an ability to trust the Church and the agents of formation. Formation programs will not be very effective for those who manifest extreme inflexibility, narcissism, antisocial behavior or any other serious pathology, a lack of sexual integration, a deep and unresolved anger (especially against authority), a deep attachment to a materialist lifestyle, or compulsive behaviors or addictions.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)