So much of a seminarian’s human development takes place before and outside his seminary experience. As a result, St. Mary’s Human Formation Program is designed to support and encourage the continued personal growth of each student. Ongoing human formation is essential for effective priestly ministry. The Program of Priestly Formation (#75) spells out clearly that the human character of the priest should be a bridge, not an obstacle, for others in meeting Jesus Christ. So a seminarian’s human formation is the “necessary foundation” of his priestly formation. As a result, our program seeks to assist seminarians in continuing their growth into healthy, well-integrated and fully human persons. The People of God need priests who are mature and compassionate with well-formed consciences and strong character.
Saint Mary’s program understands that human formation takes place best in the context of community. The traditional Sulpician vision of communaute educatrice means that faculty and students form a single seminary community. In a shared communal life, the faculty seeks to form future priests by the collegial influence that their personal and spiritual presence has on the seminarians. The faculty’s daily pattern of living, praying, teaching and interacting with seminarians is an important formational resource.
As a part of the communaute educatrice, faculty members serve as Mentors for individual seminarians. The Mentor’s role is to observe, guide, encourage, and challenge a seminarian’s progress in formation. He assists the student in formulating a set of personal goals at the beginning of the first semester each year. Together the Mentor and the seminarian assess his progress on these goals throughout the year. The Mentor also provides opportunities for individual theological reflection on the pastoral ministry of the student.
Each year workshops on human formation topics are provided for the seminarians. These workshops consider personal, human development issues such as human sexuality and celibate chastity, the public role of the priest, professional and internet boundaries, multiculturalism, addictions, as well as family of origin issues.