The goal of the Spiritual Formation Program is to form future priests to be men who continually work to establish an intimate relationship with God the Father in Jesus Christ His Son through the Holy Spirit.
As the academic program seeks to give candidates to the priesthood a thorough understanding of the Church’s heritage of theological insight into the revealed word, and as programs of liturgical and pastoral formation prepare future priests to bring that heritage to expression in worship and service, Spiritual Formation helps each seminarian to appropriate the Catholic tradition by grounding himself in a personal relationship with the Triune God who is the point and purpose of all ministry, study, worship and service.
At Saint Joseph’s Seminary, the goal of Spiritual Formation is to form seminarians who, after ordination, will have a confident sense of their identity as diocesan priests, for whom personal fulfillment and a fruitful ministry will be derived from a vital relationship with Jesus Christ, and who will nurture that relationship by good habits of prayer, reading and self-discipline.
Holiness of life and human maturity yield an inner freedom essential to lifelong celibate commitment to serve the Church. Often, priests must respond readily, calmly, and consistently to innumerable and often complex demands. The challenge is met successfully by priests who are daily renewed by an active interior participation in the Eucharistic mystery and by the rhythms of private and communal prayer.
A happy and productive priest has interiorized the demands of pastoral charity, chaste celibacy, simplicity of life, and obedience to ecclesiastical authority. These demands are intrinsic to his relationship with Christ the Priest.
Spiritual formation at Saint Joseph’s is designed to help a seminarian discern with increasing clarity and conviction whether or not his call is to the priesthood and, having made that choice, to have established habits of prayer that can sustain a lifelong commitment.
Spiritual formation contributes to a seminarian’s growth in human virtue, emotional maturity, self-possession, inner freedom, detachment from self, concern for others, especially the poor and the suffering, and a deep love for the community of Faith, the Church.
The Spiritual Formation Program places great importance on personal responsibility for one’s own interior growth. The seminarian’s life of prayer will deepen as he comes to love the Scriptures, value silence, and cherish a personal relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus and of the Church.
The seminary requires every seminarian to join with the community at daily Mass, Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. Seminarians are encouraged to use the Sacrament of Penance regularly and frequently. Penance Services are scheduled on a regular basis. The spiritual directors maintain a schedule of posted times for Confession and are otherwise generally available. An hour of Eucharistic Adoration is scheduled most days.
Spiritual retreats are scheduled at the beginning and end of the academic year, and at least three days of recollection are offered throughout the year. A course in the history and literature of spirituality is offered to second-year students. Resident students attend weekly spiritual conferences.
Every seminarian is required to choose a house spiritual director and to meet with him at least once a month. The spiritual director works with the seminarian to help him develop a personal routine of daily prayer that includes time for private meditation, an examination of conscience, spiritual reading, the recitation of the rosary, and time before the Blessed Sacrament.
The development of a close and trusting relationship with the director helps the seminarian to give concrete application to the principles and ideals of priestly formation, arrive at a better self-understanding, meet his own particular challenges to spiritual or human growth, review his use of time, examine his study and recreational habits, reflect upon his interaction with others both in and out of the seminary, and interpret his own personal religious experience.