SPIRITUAL FORMATION

The purpose of the spiritual formation is to establish attitudes, habits and practices in the spiritual life which will continue after ordination. In pursuit of this goal the program highlights the life of pastoral charity through humble service to all, active participation in the liturgy, faithful meditation on the word and faithful prayer - all of which are characteristic of the spirituality of the diocesan priest .

The context of this experience for the seminarian includes five elements that influence his growth and formation: (i) Cultural environment; (2) Experience of ministry; (3) Academic progress; (4) Personal relationships, and (5) Stages of discipleship.

 

The cultural background plays its part in conditioning the spiritual life. Students gradually gain some ability to recognize the values inherent in their culture, to find how they received faith through family and community. When they detect something of the presence of Christ in their own history, they will be better able to see how the Gospel also challenges their culture. Our spiritual formation program aims at facilitating that journey of cultural conversion that leads to deeper discipleship.

The experience of some involvement in parish life and different forms of ministry is often prominent in the vocational awareness of students entering the Seminary. It is increased during the Seminary course. It is a focus of our spiritual formation program that the students are helped to recognize the "ingredients" of Seminary life.

 

These include a variety of activities such as services within the community, accepting responsibilities, working with a team, attending lectures, preparing assignments, pondering and living the Word of God, celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation (individually or communally), participating in the daily Eucharist, and a steady prayer life - are all ways of building community and practicing ,diakonia, now, as well as preparation for future ministry. Prayerful reflection on pastoral experience is important as is academic learning. Students are assisted to develop a capacity to integrate their spirituality and ministry.

 

Through the program of college and class recollection weekends and also the annual retreats, and especially through the forum of individual and regular spiritual direction, the seminarians are opened to growth in relationship with God and others. It is precisely in the area of spiritual direction that many aspects of vocational suitability and discernment become apparent. The delicacy and responsibility of discernment is no easy task and it is impossible without the guiding Spirit.

The centre around which the Seminarian gathers and integrates the varied experiences of his life and hears the call to "radical discipleship and commitment" is in his experience of Christ. The shaping of the topics for recollection weekends and the types of retreats are tailored to the different phases of formation.

 

The seminary formation program aims to prepare candidates for the diocesan priesthood and to make them effective ministers in their diocesan community as collaborators with their Bishop and his Presbyterium.

 

In this formation process, freedom and self-determination need to be accompanied by prudent accountability. The Moderator Groups and the Diocesan Moderators (Formators are vital agents in this process.

 

Spiritual Formation in our Ratio

It is the keystone of formation. Indeed, it aims to form believers who are permeated by the Gospel and attentive to the call of the Holy Spirit, who are priests treasuring the Eucharist and the breviary, as well as their personal moments of prayer, who are pastors spiritually motivated in the exercise of pastoral care.

This does not come about only by teaching, but also by apprenticeship in daily living. The Formators must watch over the concrete conditions of seminary life: these must allow an education that fosters a missionary sense and an understanding of the Incarnation that is at the heart of the priestly ministry, i. especially for the young Churches of the Pacific. The seminary must awaken a taste for sharing and exchange and yet at the same time provide for interior silence and intimacy with Jesus Christ. ii.

The formation team ought to arouse and develop a true freedom in affective life that will allow each seminarian to embrace the celibate state with all the renunciation it implies.

In the first cycle, formation should be especially careful to initiate students in the life of the Spirit which has its source in Baptism and Confirmation; a daily sharing in the Eucharist, in the regular celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in liturgical and personal prayer, particularly in meditation and the lectio divina, in love for the Church, in obedience to the Pope and the Bishops, iii. and in practice of asceticism.

Right from the very beginning, a deeper acquaintance with Sacred Scriptures is vital. Hence Formators should take care to foster in candidates a taste for and the practice of regular reading of Scripture.

In this first stage, an initial formation for priestly spiritual life and for an understanding of the meaning and demands of celibacy, particularly in the context of the Pacific cultures, is necessary. Seminarians should be encouraged to reflect on the role of women in their societies, and to discover the place of Mary, Mother of God, iv. in the economy of salvation and in Christian prayer.

i. Canon 245 §1

ii. Canon 244

iii. Canon 245 §2

iv. Canon 246 §3