INTRODUCTION TO THE PROGRAM OF HUMAN FORMATION
The principle task of the Human Formation Program at St. John’s is to prepare candidates for service as priests in the Roman Catholic Church. The 5th edition of the Program for Priestly Formation (PPF) states that the Human Formation Program “...seeks to prepare men to be bridges for, not obstacles to, the spread of the Gospel” (PPF #83). A person who aspires to the priesthood must be a man of communion, someone who makes a gift of himself and is able to receive the gift of others. Integrity and self-possession are necessary qualities. Seminary formation, then, seeks to engage the seminarian in a process of self-discovery and personal growth which enables him to develop the capacity to foster “the affective ability to engage in pastoral leadership with Jesus as the model shepherd” (PPF #83).
THE FORMATION AND EVALUATION PROCESS
Once a candidate is admitted to St. John’s, he joins a community of formation which consists of faculty, seminarians, and staff. This community is designed to assist in a holistic integration of the four pillars of formation: intellectual, spiritual, human, and pastoral. Paragraph 76 in the Program of Priestly Formation enumerates ten qualities or characteristics that are essential for those preparing to be “apt instruments of Christ’s grace” (PPF #76). This is achieved by means of a three-fold process of self-knowledge, self-acceptance, and self-gift” (PPF # 80).
In order to achieve this goal, seminarians participate in a process of ongoing self-reflection and personal assessment. This formation process has a two-fold purpose. Firstly, the seminary is responsible to the sponsoring bishop and the People of God to render an honest and forthright appraisal of the seminarian’s progress. Secondly, through ongoing consultation and assessment, the seminarian will be assisted in his vocational discernment and readiness for ministry. In some cases this may result in the realization that they are not called to priestly ministry.