The Four Dimensions of Formation
Mount St. Mary’s of the West has received a commission from Holy Church to form those preparing for the priesthood into the persons God has called them to be, to help lay the foundations of who they will be for others in the universal mission of the Church.
The seminary and its programs foster the formation of future priests by attending specifically to their human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation in an integrated way in the heart of the Church. Aided by the formation faculty the Rector is able to assess a seminarian’s progress as he works through these four dimensions: “the human dimension, which helps to shape the quality of priestly ministry; the spiritual dimension, which helps to shape the quality of priestly ministry; the intellectual dimension which provides the rational tools needed in order to understand the values that belong to being a pastor, to make them incarnate in daily life, and to transmit the content of the faith appropriately; the pastoral dimension which makes possible a responsible and fruitful ecclesial service” (Ratio Fundamentalis, 89).
Human formation is the foundation of all priestly formation. Key to growth in this area is the cultivation of human qualities and growth in self-knowledge that will aid the individual to be an effective priest. “In order that his ministry may be humanly as credible and acceptable as possible, it is important that the priest should mold his human personality in such a way that it becomes a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ the Redeemer of humanity” (Pastores Dabo vobis, #43).
The spiritual life at Mt. St. Mary’s follows the vision and guidance of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis concerning the priesthood. The spiritual life here “is directed at nourishing and sustaining communion with God and with our brothers and sisters, in the friendship of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and with and attitude of docility to the Holy Spirit. This intimate relationship forms the heart of the seminarian in that generous and sacrificial love that marks the beginning of pastoral charity” (Ratio Fundamentalis #101).
At Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, we have an outstanding faculty and program that will help form the minds and hearts of seminarians according to the heart of mind of Christ and the Church. The intellectual formation “is aimed at achieving for seminarians a solid competence in philosophy and theology, along with a more general educational preparation, enough to allow them to proclaim the Gospel message to the people of our own day in a way that is credible and can be understood. It seeks to enable them to enter into fruitful dialogue with the contemporary world, and to uphold the truth of the faith by the light of reason, thereby reveling its beauty” (Ratio Fundamentalis #116).
The program of pastoral formation at Mount St. Mary’s seeks to provide opportunities for engagement and evaluation such that the seminarian develops an appreciation for the multi-dimensional pastoral work of the diocesan priest. It is important that the seminarian have an acute awareness that it is in his pastoral ministry that his development in the other areas of formation comes into contact with God’s people and bears its fruit. Each seminarian takes part in pastoral works during the course of his formation that give him an opportunity to develop in the seminarian authentic pastoral charity that reflects the love of Christ.