The theoretical part of the program includes the theology of proclamation, formal homiletics, and the theory of catechetic, applied sociology, communication, counselling and administration. Pre-supposed are other courses offered in the seminary curriculum, such as General Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology on the one hand, and Christology, Ecclesiology and Liturgy on the other.
The practical aspect comprises teaching catechetic, preparing liturgies and para-liturgies in the schools, visiting the hospitals, prisons, aged, and crippled children. They are also expected to do some preaching in the seminary. Furthermore, a full year is spent away from the seminary especially for pastoral training and formation in the student,s home diocese. This year, known as the Pastoral Training and Formation Year, is normally carried out in the fifth year of the student,s academic formation.
A full year is spent away from the seminary especially for pastoral training and formation in the student,s home diocese. This is normally carried out in the fifth year of the student,s academic formation.
The pastoral training and formation of diocesan students during this year is done under the supervision of the Diocesan Coordinator whom each bishop appoints for his own diocese. The Coordinator sees to it that sufficient and useful opportunities are offered to the students not only to experience the actual situation to which they will eventually return, but also to learn from that experience through a process of reflection.
There is a separate Handbook available for the Pastoral Training and Formation Year program, which provides guidelines for the Diocesan Pastoral Coordinators and Supervisors, as well as for the students. Following the Pastoral Year, and at the beginning of the new academic year, Year VI students return to the Seminary a week before lectures begin to spend time reflecting theologically on the experiences of their pastoral training year. This reflection program is called Year VI Orientation Seminar. The individual,s experience, whether it be personal or pastoral, is the starting point for this reflection.
The purpose of this reflection is to help students come to a clearer understanding of themselves as ministers, of how they relate to people, of their ministerial strengths and weaknesses, and of the areas of need and growth. It is hoped that by listening to the experiences of others they will discover alternative ways of ministering. Through the help of the facilitator, the participants are led to integrate theory and practice.
Apostolic and pastoral formation is the ultimate aim of all formation: all aspects of formation must aim at this. But it can only be the result of both theory and practice.
In the first stage this consists in a regular contact, at set times, with Christian communities apart from the seminary, and a participation in the apostolate of this community through a precise responsibility.
This will raise questions which will encourage intellectual growth; it helps to shape faith and spiritual life; it stimulates the missionary spirit and helps finally in personal discernment.
Careful consideration will be given to what contact outside the seminary seems feasible and profitable for the students as well as the community in question.
In the second stage, it consists in the initiation into pastoral ministry. The seminarians are welcomed when possible into a team of priests. They participate, progressively more and more as they approach ordination, in the life and work of priests.
This will naturally be more effective when the students can join their home diocese, during their holidays and pastoral year, and function in their normal cultural and linguistic environment. The objective is to further gradual growth begun in the first cycle, i.e. the change from the situation common to all Christians, to the one of pastors with all the spiritual attitude this implies.
Extract from Ratio Institutionis of PRS