Propaedeutic Formation Overview

Propaedeutic Formation Overview

Holy Trinity Seminary is a house of priestly formation for the Propaedeutic and Discipleship Stages. The sixth edition of the Program of Priestly Formation describes the nature of priestly formation as primarily a “journey of discipleship” and a “privileged time of growth in self-knowledge and deepening intimacy with Jesus Christ:”

Formation, as the Church understands it, is not equivalent to a secular sense of schooling or, even less, job training. Formation is first and foremost cooperation with the grace of God. … The formation of priests means following a singular ‘journey of discipleship,’ which begins at Baptism, is perfected through the other sacraments of Christian initiation, comes to be appreciated as the center of one’s life at the beginning of Seminary formation, and continues through the whole life. While formation is a lifelong journey, the time spent preparing for ordained ministry is a privileged time of growth in self-knowledge and deepening intimacy with Jesus Christ [114].

With emphasis on the integral and non-fragmented nature of priestly formation, the PPF further explains how this formation is structured around the four dimensions of human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation:

The four dimensions of human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation are interrelated aspects of a human response to God’s transforming grace. Without attention to integration in all stages of formation, the overall goal of formation, configuration to the heart of and life of the Lord Jesus, cannot be achieved. … Through human formation the foundation is laid upon which the other dimensions can be received and lived. Through spiritual formation the seminarian learns to bring everything from the other dimensions into his relationship with Jesus Christ. Through intellectual formation he comes to a deeper understanding of the truths of faith and the human person, enriching his relationship with God, his understanding of himself, and his service to others. Through pastoral formation he learns to express the other three in pastoral charity, the overall goal of priestly formation [115-116].

The integration of these four dimensions aims at helping each seminarian to embrace his journey as treasure in an earthen vessel (2 Cor. 4:7). Through personalized formation, he achieves “a serene and creative interior synthesis between the two mysterious aspects of his humanity: his strengths and weaknesses” [PPF, 115].

Holy Trinity Seminary, besides being a house of priestly formation, is also a house for continued vocational discernment. This involves a man’s prayerful dialogue with God and with the Church in the discernment of his vocation. As St. Pope John Paul II’s post-synodal apostolic letter of priestly formation, Pastores Dabo Vobis (PDV), states: “The candidate to the priesthood should receive his vocation not by imposing his own personal conditions but accepting also the norms and conditions which the Church herself lays down, in the fulfillment of her responsibility” [PDV, 35].