St. Mary's Seminary & University has designed its theological curriculum and priestly formation program with the expressed purpose of preparing its seminarians to assume greater and more demanding pastoral responsibilities immediately following ordination. Community life, prayer, academics, and spiritual formation all contribute in very specific ways to the formation of a priest who can be a good shepherd to his people. These programs are intentionally linked to, and integrated with, the pastoral formation that takes place in learning parishes during the academic year. All academic courses have specific "pastoral outcomes" indicated in the course syllabi.
The purpose of the Pastoral Formation Program at St. Mary's Seminary is to help seminarians understand the dynamics of Catholic parishes in the Church today and learn how to apply their theological and pastoral education to the realities of parish life. For that purpose, select local parishes are the sites of pastoral training for every seminarian. The seminary faculty leads the process of mentoring, evaluation, and theological reflection on parish experience so that seminarians develop the necessary leadership skills for priestly ministry today.
The Pastoral Formation Program includes five integrated components: parish ministerial service, academic courses, seminary workshops, faculty mentoring, and pastoral team learning.
As a key component of pastoral formation, the homiletics program seeks to form seminarians into effective preachers by emphasizing the development of a spiritual, pastoral, and theological imagination for the ministry of the Word. Seminarians have ready access to a communications studio and a variety of faculty and technological means for enhancing their preaching ability.
In order to broaden a seminarian's understanding of international and global issues and the ecumenical context of the pastor's role today, St. Mary's partners with Catholic Relief Services in a Global Fellows Program, the College of Notre Dame of Maryland offering Spanish language and culture studies in pastoral settings, and The Ecumenical Institute of Theology where seminarians can take approved elective courses to broaden their ecumenical, interfaith, and ministerial horizons.