Pastoral Formation at Notre Dame Seminary


IMG_6786From the Notre Dame Seminary Formation Handbook:

378. Seminarians enter a priestly formation program with an already formed idea of how the Church carries out her pastoral mission on the universal, national, diocesan, and local level. The seminarian usually has a particular interest, skill, characteristic, or quality that somehow confirms or motivates his desire for ministry in the Church. The formation program at the seminary helps the seminarian cultivate those skills that are necessary for ordained ministry and are external and practical expressions of Christian discipleship.

379. “The whole formation imparted to candidates for the priesthood aims at preparing them to enter into communion with the charity of Christ the Good Shepherd. They should be trained to undertake the ministry of the Shepherd, that they may know how to represent Christ to humanity” (PDV 57).

380. The priestly formation program at Notre Dame Seminary introduces the seminarian to pastoral formation in a number of ways but most particularly through the apostolic works program. Since the formation program for collegians is more introductory at this stage, the demands of field education are limited. However, the seminarians are exposed to an array of pastoral opportunities.

Purpose

381. The purpose of pastoral formation is for the seminarian to learn and understand how to be a shepherd imbued with the charity of Christ, filled with a missionary spirit, and possessing pastoral competence. Pastoral skills are developed through formative, supervised experiences in ministry and reflection upon those experiences.

Criteria

382. The goals and criteria for pastoral formation are outlined in Pastores Dabo Vobis (57-59) and in the Program of Priestly Formation (235-256). The priestly formation program at Notre Dame Seminary has implemented these goals into its pastoral formation program.

383. The delineation of these principles seeks to achieve an objective formation of the seminarian who is to cultivate certain qualifications (cf. PPF239). Therefore, the goals of pastoral formation are:

Goals

  1. a)  To promote growth as mature persons and as active Catholics by having authentic experiences of Gospel living emphasizing Christian service as basic preparation for priestly ministry.
  2. b)  To expose the seminarian to the challenges of everyday, ordinary life considering the varied situations in society especially the condition of minorities, the underprivileged, the imprisoned, and the homeless.
  3. c)  To acquaint seminarians with the rich diversity of the Church’s ethnic and racial life considering the social and geographic situations of the local Church.
  4. d)  To imbue in the seminarian’s discernment and formation the ecclesial dimension of pastoral service so as to demonstrate the integration of social service to the wider pastoral mission of the Church thus avoiding a reductionist view of ministry to simply social service.

384. The priestly formation program seeks to prepare the seminarians for ordained ministry and ongoing formation after ordination, hence, seminarians completing their formation ought to be men who:

 Develop basic skills often related to human formation for effective ministry to people;

  •   Have an initiation into and understanding of practical, pastoral experiences, especially in a parish;
  •   Understand the ecclesial nature and purpose of apostolic service and its relationship to the overall good of the Church;
  •   Appreciate how all ministry relates to the vision of the diocesan bishop, the chief shepherd of the local Church;
  •   Cultivate a preferential love for the poor;
  •   Are able to emphasize the Word of God in pastoral ministry as it is contained in the sacred scriptures and Tradition of the Church as authentically interpreted by the Magisterium;
  •   Possess a missionary motivation or quality for ministry;
  •   Understand the communal and collaborative nature of pastoralministry;
  •   Are beginning to cultivate mature leadership skills in dealing with people in the proper and appropriate way as one who represents Christ and the Church.Components

385. “Every seminary is required to offer a coordinated program of pastoral formation that forms candidates for the priesthood who are able to support men and women in answering the universal call to holiness” (PPF 242).

386. The Director of Pastoral Formation and Field Education, a member of the formation faculty of the seminary, oversees the program.

387. Apostolic placements should progress from simpler experience with limited objectives for beginners to more complex involvements for experienced students” (PPF 184).

388. “Pastoral Formation cannot be reduced to a mere apprenticeship, aiming to make the candidate familiar with some pastoral techniques. The seminary which educates must seek, really and truly, to initiate the candidate into the sensitivity of being a shepherd, in the conscious and mature assumption of his responsibilities, in the interior habit of evaluating problems and establishing priorities, and looking for solutions on the basis of honest motivations of faith and according to the theological demands inherent in pastoral work” (PPF 397).

Pre-Theology

389.a Pre-Theology – Pastoral Ministry. In order for seminarians to understand adequately how they are called to serve as a pastoral minister, they will focus their initial pastoral ministry on building up the community at Notre Dame Seminary. This will help the seminarian recognize he is called to be a member of the community of disciples that follows the Lord at Notre Dame Seminary. During the final semester of Pre-Theology the seminarian will continue his pastoral ministry development by participating in a supervised introduction to pastoral ministry. The goal of this pastoral ministry experience is to help the seminarian to realize how he is called to serve as a representative of Christ and his Church to those needs. The Director of Pastoral Formation and Field Education will organize off-site visitations to various Catholic Charities sites for seminarians to interact with others in need. By interacting with others and reflecting on these experiences, the seminarian will come to see the role and responsibilities of pastoral ministry in the life of a priest. At the conclusion of this one semester pastoral ministry experience, the seminarian will turn in a theological reflection paper on his pastoral ministry, a self-evaluation and supervisor’s evaluation of the seminarian. The pastoral ministry evaluations will be used by the seminarian to set future goals and to guide the seminarian’s development. The evaluations and goals will be shared with the seminarian’s formation director.

Pre-Theology Summer

389.b. Supervised Summer Parish Ministry for Pre-Theology Seminarians, Institute for Priestly Formation (IPF), or Spanish Language training. During the summer(s) of Pre-Theology the seminarian may participate in a supervised summer parish ministry, IPF or a Spanish Language program. The purpose of the supervised summer parish ministry is to provide the seminarian with the opportunity to continue his vocational discernment while working in a parish setting. The seminarian should be involved in all parish ministries and meetings, especially participating in Vacation Bible School and Mass. He should be involved in visitation to the hospital/shut- ins, feeding the hungry, and participating in religious education programs. He should participate in all meetings at the parish including the pastoral council, finance council, school board, and liturgy planning meetings. The purpose of IPF is to help the seminarian further his formation especially focusing on his spiritual formation. The purpose of Spanish Language training is to help the seminarian prepare for using the Spanish language in his future ministry.

At the conclusion of the summer, the seminarian will turn in a theological reflection paper on his summer ministry, a self-evaluation and supervisor’s evaluation of the seminarian. The summer ministry evaluations will be used by the seminarian to set future goals and to guide the seminarian’s development. The evaluations and goals will be shared with the seminarian’s formation director.

First Theology Fall/Spring

390. Pastoral Exposure Program (PEP). During the year of First Theology the seminarians will expand their participation in pastoral ministry so as to further discern the Lord is call to priestly ministry. The Pastoral Exposure program will give the seminarians an opportunity to further reflect on their vocation and call to serve those in need. The Director of Pastoral Formation and Field Education will organize off-site ministry opportunities to various Catholic Charities sites for seminarians to visit. By interacting with others and reflecting on these experiences, the seminarian will come to see his strengths and areas of needed growth in pastoral ministry. At the conclusion each semester, the seminarian will turn in a theological reflection paper on his pastoral ministry, a self- evaluation and supervisor’s evaluation of the seminarian. The pastoral ministry evaluations will be used by the seminarian to set future goals and to guide the seminarian’s development. The evaluations and goals will be shared with the seminarian’s formation director.

391. Pastoral Theology Course. All first year seminarians are enrolled in the pastoral theology course in the fall semester. This course sets the foundation for pastoral ministry exploring human, spiritual and intellectual formation come together for a proper understanding of pastoral care. During this course seminarians will become more familiar with the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the interpretation of these documents oriented to the pastoral mission of the Church.

392. Teaching and Preaching the Word of God Course. All first year seminarians are enrolled in this course in the spring semester. This course is designed to provide seminarians the theological foundation for the practice and art of teaching and preaching. Seminarians will be familiar with the principles of evangelization and catechesis necessary for pastoral ministry.

393. Acompano Mission Trip. All first year seminarians participate in a mission trip to Granada, Nicaragua to experience the missionary dimension of pastoral ministry. The following experiences are provided to the seminarians: they reflect theologically on the mission of Christ and the Church; they become aware of the universality of the Church; they pray for the mission of Christ in the world today; they study issues of social justice; they live and work with missionaries; they are introduced to another language and culture; they learn from the people; they provide manual labor to improve the living conditions of the people; and they make pastoral home visits particularly to the poor.

First Theology Summer

394. Supervised Parish Ministry for First Theology Seminarians, Institute for Priestly Formation (IPF), or Spanish Language training. During the summer(s) of First Theology the seminarian may participate in a supervised summer parish ministry, IPF or a Spanish Language program. The purpose of the supervised summer parish ministry is to provide the seminarian with the opportunity to continue his vocational discernment while working in a parish setting. The seminarian should be involved in all parish ministries and meetings, especially participating in Vacation Bible School and Mass. He should be involved in visitation to the hospital/shut- ins, feeding the hungry, and participating in religious education programs. He should participate in all meetings at the parish including the pastoral council, finance council, school board, and liturgy planning meetings. The purpose of IPF is to help the seminarian further his formation especially focusing on his spiritual formation. The purpose of Spanish Language training is to help the seminarian prepare for using the Spanish language in his future ministry.

395. At the conclusion of the summer, the seminarian will turn in a theological reflection paper on his summer ministry, a self-evaluation and supervisor’s evaluation of the seminarian. The summer ministry evaluations will be used by the seminarian to set future goals and to guide the seminarian’s development and integration of the four pillars of formation. The evaluations and goals will be shared with the seminarian’s formation director.

Second Theology Fall/Spring

396. Supervised Ministry of Religious Education. Seminarians participate in a supervised catechetical ministry selected according to the seminarians’ previous experience and present interests. Seminarians will be assigned to a ministry of teaching. Possibilities include teaching religion in an elementary or high school, or teaching in a parish program for elementary, high school or teaching adults in RCIA. At the conclusion each semester, the seminarian will turn in a theological reflection paper on his pastoral ministry, a self-evaluation and supervisor’s evaluation of the seminarian. The pastoral ministry evaluations will be used by the seminarian to set future goals and to guide the seminarian’s development. The evaluations and goals will be shared with the seminarian’s formation director.

397. Pastoral Counseling Course. This course is an introduction to pastoral counseling. It studies the relationship of spirituality, morality, psychology, the teaching of the Church, pastoral counseling, and the sacramental life of the Church. Seminarians will be able to articulate and demonstrate an understanding of the basic counseling skills of pastoral counseling and have an understanding of approaches to counseling considering the differences in individuals, couples and family counseling. Seminarians will develop an understanding of some of the common issues in counseling including crises, trauma, sexual abuse, physical abuse and violence. Seminarians will understand various approaches to grief and loss. Finally, seminarians will develop an awareness of the more serious psychological/mental illnesses such as mood disorders and personality disorders.

398. Homiletics Practicum. The seminarians will have a practical study of the preparation and presentation of the Sunday homily aimed at deepening the homilist’s appreciation of how to preach the Word of God enhancing his public speaking ability. The seminarian will have familiarity with various homiletic resource materials; a knowledge of the verbal and non-verbal dynamics involved in public communication; ability to derive homiletic themes from any given set of lectionary readings; ability to synthesize homiletic themes theologically and creatively; ability to listen to oneself critically, to hear oneself as the congregation does; and the ability to continually update one’s development as a minister of the Word.

399. Preparation for Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), Preparation for Clinical Pastoral Immersion (CPI). Workshops will be hosted throughout second year for seminarians who are expected to participate in CPE or CPI. For seminarians who are not expected to participate in CPE, the Director of Pastoral Formation and Field Education will work with the Vocation Director of the seminarian to determine how to fulfill the three credit hours required in the curriculum – the most common alternative is Spanish Language training.

Second Theology Summer

400. All seminarians are required to participate in a pastoral ministry assignment after second theology. The ordinary summer assignment is either CPE or CPI. Notre Dame Seminary collaborates with diocese using CPE centers and with diocese that place their seminarians in hospitals in their diocese to serve as chaplains. Seminarians doing CPE will complete the required CPE program and those seminarians doing CPI will complete the Notre Dame Seminary requirements for CPI along with any other requirements set by the diocese. The Director of Pastoral Formation and Field Education will arrange for seminarians to be interviewed by CPE Directors as a part of the process required in preparing for CPE. The most common alternative to CPE or CPI is a Spanish Language training program that is chosen by the diocese. At the conclusion of the summer, the seminarian will turn in a theological reflection paper on his summer ministry, a self-evaluation and a supervisor’s evaluation of the seminarian. The summer ministry evaluations will be used by the seminarian to set future goals and to guide the seminarian’s development and integration of the four pillars of formation. The evaluations and goals will be shared with the seminarian’s formation director.

Third Theology Fall/Spring

401. Integrated Pastoral Ministry. During third Theology, Seminarians will be expected to pick a pastoral ministry assignment that helps the develop and demonstrate their integration of the four pillars of formation. Possible ministry assignments include, parish ministry, hospital ministry, and special assignments at the seminary. The seminarian will choose his pastoral ministry assignment with his formation director. At the conclusion each semester, the seminarian will turn in a theological reflection paper on his pastoral ministry, a self-evaluation and supervisor’s evaluation of the seminarian. The pastoral ministry evaluations will be used by the seminarian to set future goals and to guide the seminarian’s development. The evaluations and goals will be shared with the seminarian’s formation director.

402. a) Homiletics Practicum. After having had a general review of the theology of preaching from second theology, this course explores: the theologies of baptism, marriage and death; the Catholic rites used in baptisms, weddings and funerals; and the relevant pastoral issues related to these liturgies. The course also includes presentations on preaching the weekday homily, preaching at special occasions, preaching to youth, and the effective use of homiletic resources.

402. b)Diaconate Ministry Practicum. This course reviews with seminarians the liturgical and sacramental rites of the Church that a deacon can celebrate, namely, Baptism, Marriage, Funeral Rites, and Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction. The deacon’s role at Mass will also be treated. The Prenotanda (introductions) of the Rites and the particular rubrical directives and options given in the various official ritual books of the Church will be studied and the Rites simulated in class.

402. c) Pastoral Theology of Marriage and Family. This course will offer the seminarian an overview of pastoral care to those seeking marriage and to their families. The seminarian will see how his vocation and the vocation of marriage and family are to work together. The seminarians will see how God’s plan for marriage and family is to be seen as a call to holiness for the laity.

Third Theology Summer/Fall Internship

403. Seminarians ordained to the Order of Deacon at the conclusion of their third year of theology are assigned by their bishops/superiors to a parish assignment that takes place from summer until mid-October. The assignment includes a learning agreement between the Pastor and Deacon, theological reflection sessions, and working with a parish lay support committee.

404. The deacons will acquire experience and expertise in the pastoral tasks of parish ministry; learn about himself, his potentialities and his limitations through his work with the people in the parish and in association with other ministers; seminarians will continue to appropriate their theological education so as to establish patterns of pastoral ministry through reflective study, prayer and supervision. The seminarian will focus on his integration of the four pillars of formation. At the conclusion of the parish internship, the seminarian will turn in a theological reflection paper on his internship ministry, a self-evaluation, an evaluation from the lay support committee, and supervisor’s evaluation of the seminarian. The summer ministry evaluations will be used by the seminarian to set future goals and to guide the seminarian’s development and integration of the four pillars of formation. The evaluations and goals will be shared with the seminarian’s formation director.

405. The seminarian earns six credits for the summer and fall assignment completing all expectations under the direction of the Director of Pastoral Formation and Field Education.

Fourth Theology Fall/Spring

406. Church Administration Course. This course is designed to provide seminarians with selected church management-administrative theory, models, and skills to better understand and facilitate priestly ministry according to the Code of Canon Law. Seminarians will study different situations involving the daily administration of a parish as well as aspects related to stewardship.

407. Temporality Formation Workshops. The seminarians will participate in ten workshops that review with the seminarian general information regards parish finances, employee practices, parish budgets, administration of property, policies regarding schools and cemeteries, etc.

408. Priesthood Ministry Practicum. This course reviews with the seminarians the sacramental rites of the Church which only a priest usually celebrates, namely, Mass, Penance and Anointing of the Sick. The Prenotanda (introductions) of the Rites and the particular rubrical directives and options given in the various official ritual books of the Church will be studied and the Rites simulated in class. The seminarian will develop the ability to faithfully and prayerfully preside at the celebration of the sacraments. The seminarian will develop the facility and insights in using liturgical texts and rites within a pastoral context. The seminarian will be able to find, examine, and evaluate resources for sacramental preparation and celebration.

409. Spiritual Direction Training. Seminarians will participate in a week-long program in the spring semester training them how to conduct spiritual direction with the faithful. The program integrates spirituality, theology, pastoral counseling, and prayer into a training experience that prepares seminarians to determine how to offer spiritual direction and when to recommend professional help to one who is seeking more than spiritual direction.

410. Weekend Diaconal Ministry. Fourth year deacons are invited to participate in parish ministry on the weekends with the permission of their vocation director and with the permission of the parish pastor. These pastoral experiences will continue to prepare the deacon for priestly ministry. Care should be taken however that the seminarian attend to all of his formation requirements that include successfully completing the requirements of the degree and all other seminary expectations.

Instruments

411. Formation Conferences each week given by the Rector-President and formation faculty integrate all four pillars of priestly formation into the presentations. Conferences directly relate to cultivating a diocesan priestly spirituality. Since pastoral formation is concerned with the view to ministry, conferences challenge the seminarian to determine the ecclesial dimensions of how ministry is exercised in the Church. Additionally, homilies given by the priest celebrants always highlight the formative elements of discernment and preparation for pastoral ministry in light of diocesan priestly spirituality.

412. Formation Advising/Spiritual Direction: The seminarian explores with his formation advisor and Spiritual Director his understanding of ministry and the necessary formation needed to carry out the work of the Church. Skills and qualifications are discussed even though discernment and formation are at initiatory stages.

413. Apostolic Works Meetings: The Director of Pastoral Formation and Field Education meets with the seminarians to evaluate their progress in their individual apostolates and to lead discussions which challenge the seminarians to offer pastoral reflection on the concept of ministry and how those being ministered in the apostolic works are served by the Church.

414. Global Workshop: Notre Dame Seminary has diverse cultures represented by the seminarians and faculty. The diversity of culture is also present in the dioceses and religious communities served by the seminary. Recognizing the need to give seminarians a more adequate preparation for priestly ministry among groups of different people within the Church, the seminary sponsors the Global Church Workshop. Each year during a four-year cycle, one day will be given to a cultural immersion in one ethnic or other group. The focus will be on theological, liturgical and spiritual understandings prevalent in the ethnic community and the current pastoral needs. The seminary community will be required to participate in the prayers, devotions, liturgical style, meals and customs of the ethnic group.

415. Yearly Evaluations: The yearly evaluation is an opportunity for the faculty and seminarian to evaluate the progress of the seminarian in their pastoral formation including insights regarding skills, qualifications, maturity, proper ecclesial focus, and interpersonal dynamics involved in ministry.