FORMATION

…after the Heart of Jesus Christ,
Our Prophet, Priest, and Shepherd…

Promoting Integral Growth of Persons and Future Priests

“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Holding firmly in Jesus’ declaration, SJVTS believes that the “whole work of priestly formation would be deprived of its necessary foundation if it lacked a suitable human formation” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 43). Faithful to the founding vision of the seminary as well as to the Church’s Magisterium while remaining ever more docile and discerning to the promptings of the Spirit in our modern times, SJVTS “aims at forming men of virtue, of human excellence and goodness of character, founded on psycho-emotional integration, and modeled on Christ’s example of authentic humanity” (Updated Philippine Program for Priestly Formation, no. 18).

“Human formation, being the foundation of all priestly formation, promotes the integral growth of the person and allows the integration of all its dimensions… Such a perspective should bring the seminarian to a balanced sense of self-respect, leading him to be aware of his own talents and learning how to place them at the service of the People of God.”

Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis
Sacerdotalis (2016), no. 94

“Community life during the years of initial formation must make an impact on each individual, purifying his intentions and transforming the conduct of his life as he gradually conforms himself to Christ. Formation comes about every day through interpersonal relationships, moments of exchange and discussion which result in the development of that ‘fertile soil’, in which a vocation matures concretely” (Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis (2016), no. 50).

Becoming Men of Familiaritas Cum Deo

The spiritual formation program for seminarians in theology at SJVTS is the result of the accumulated experience of formators since the foundation of the seminary in 1985. The goals and principal policies and practices of this formation program follow those given by the Church, especially in the documents of Vatican II (Presbyterorum Ordinis and Optatam Totius) and other post-conciliar documents, eg. Pastores Dabo Vobis (1992), and more recently, the New Ratio Fundamentalis Intitutionis Sacerdotalis (2016).

“Spiritual Formation 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 an 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 Institutionis
Sacerdotalis (2016), no. 101

“The seminary aims at forming men whose lives find their center in personal and transformative communion with God in Christ, and who seek to unite themselves with God’s saving will in all aspects of their lives, especially through participation in the mission of Christ as an ordained minister of the Church.

The seminarian becomes a man of familiaritas cum Deo, with a living and personal friendship with the Lord, expressed in and nourished by a daily life of personal and communal prayer, which finds its high point in the Eucharist. His relationship with God is not simply an aspect of his life, but becomes its center, and thus, transforms all his other relationships, his perceptions, his desires, his choices. He grows not only in prayer, but in the habit of discernment: he constantly seeks the will of God in his life, making himself docile to the leadings of the Spirit, and striving to grow in the freedom which allows him to respond to God’s will” (UPPPF, 19).

Assenting to God’s Word in Study and for Ministry

“Intellectual formation can be regarded as a component of both human and spiritual formation: intelligence seeks its own growth which reaches its apex in the knowledge of God. The intellectual formation of seminarians, however, finds its unique justification in the very nature of the ordained ministry and the mission of evangelization” (Updated Philippine Program for Priestly Formation, 94; cf. Pastores Dabo Vobis, 51).

“Intellectual Formation in Theology has a definite pastoral orientation and goal. Through theological study, ‘the future priest assents to the Word of God, grows in his spiritual life and prepares himself for pastoral ministry.”

The Updated Philippine Program
for Priestly Formation (2004), no. 95

“For the sake of being able to proclaim the Gospel in a credible, inviting and convincing way, seminarians need a high level of intellectual formation, especially when one realizes that the Gospel is to be preached to a world beset by fresh and complicated questions and problems arising from scientific, technological, ideological and cultural changes” (Updated Philippine Program for Priestly Formation, 96).

Undertaking the Ministry of the Shepherd

St. John Vianney Theological Seminary “aims at forming future servantleaders with a deep commitment to and competence for pastoral leadership and service, especially of the poor and the suffering, in union with Christ, the Good Shepherd, and the shepherds in the Church towards the building up of the local Church in communion and mission” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 57-59). Vatican II and PCP II envision the Church as “a Community of Disciples, a Church of the Poor, committed to the mission of renewed integral evangelization” (Message of the National Pastoral Consultation on Church Renewal, no. 1).

“… a formation of a specifically Pastoral Character must be provided. It should be such as to help the seminarian to acquire the inner freedom to live the apostolate as service, able to see the work of God in the hearts and lives of the people.”

Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis
Sacerdotalis (2016), no. 119

“The objective of major seminaries is to make the seminarians true shepherds of souls [persons and communities] after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, teacher, priest and shepherd. They should be trained to undertake the ministry of the shepherd, that they may know how to represent Christ to people, Christ “who did not come to be served, but to serve others and give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10, 45; Jn 13, 12-17), and that they may win over many by becoming servants of all (1 Cor 9, 19). Hence, all elements of their training—spiritual, intellectual, disciplinary [human, pastoral]—should be coordinated with this pastoral aim in view. All superiors and teachers should zealously cooperate to carry out this program in loyal obedience to the bishop’s authority” (Optatam Totius, no. 4).

The Ministry Year (CY3)

The Ministry Year Program is an integral part of the formation program of SJVTS. It is an opportunity for seminarians to develop greater growth in priestly identity, ministry and maturity through the exercise of greater personal responsibility and leadership through supervised work outside the seminary.

It includes the deepening of their sense of self, self-knowledge, proper dealing with authority, and confronting the different issues of intimacy for a more holistic growth and formation.

“The seminary which educates must seek really and truly to initiate the candidate into the sensitivity of being a shepherd, in the conscious and mature assumptions of his responsibilities, in the interior habit of evaluating problems and establishing priorities and looking for solutions on the basis of honest motivations of faith and according to the theological demands inherent in pastoral work.”

Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 58

The Galilee Year (CY4)

Galillee Year is a period of broadening (pagpalapad) and deepening (pagpalawom) of the seminarians’ perspective and appreciation of their priestly vocation. More importantly it is a time for more personal appropriation (pagpahaom), internalization (pagpatiglum) and a greater integration (pagtibook) of the human, spiritual, and pastoral pillars of formation towards an authentic priestly life and fruitful ministry (pagpaambit/pag-alagad).

“…unless we train ministers capable of warming people’s hearts, of walking with them in the night, of dialoguing with their hopes and disappointments, of mending their brokenness, what hope can we have for our present and future journey? … That is why it is important to devise and ensure a suitable formation, one which will provide persons able to step into the night without being overcome by the darkness and losing their bearings; able to listen to people’s dreams without being seduced and to share their disappointments without losing hope…”

Pope Francis, Address to the Bishops of Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, 28 July 2013)

Vat II, in calling for greater attention to the need “to provide a more solid foundation for the seminarians’ spiritual formation, and to enable to decide upon their vocation with full deliberation,” says that “it will rest with the bishops to set apart a suitable interval of time for a more intensive spiritual preparation” of candidates for presbyteral ministry… so that better provision can be made for testing the fitness of the candidate to the Presbyterate” (Optatam Totius, 12).

Realizing, therefore, the wisdom of the Council’s proposal, SJVTS upon the approval of the CaBuSTaM Bishops established a year’s program of strictly humanspiritual-pastoral training
(HSPFY) called the Galilee Year (GY) at the mid-part, i.e., in the seminarians’ fourth year of priestly formation. Galilee Year takes its name after the native land of Jesus where he spent his boyhood, began his ministry and performed his works and miracles. It was also in Galilee where Jesus chose and formed his first disciples.