In this day, the journey to the priesthood is a long one and the characteristics required for the formation to ordain a seminarian to the priesthood are numerous. Yet, it needs to be so, in having good and holy priests for a lifetime of service. With this article, I wanted to reflect on what most Archdioceses of today are requiring for the formation of their seminarians. In the “Profile of a Candiate for the Priesthood to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles” (See *) as mentioned in the Parish Vocation Director’s Manual originally created by the Vocations Office, under the direction of Monsignor Jim Forsen, it is mentioned these vital characteristics as follows:
“1. An ecclesial spirituality that includes a deep love and commitment to the Eucharist, to the Sacramental life of the Church, to the Scriptures, and to the Liturgy of the Hours; as well as a personal spirituality that includes a commitment to private prayer, balance devotionalism, and personal spiritual growth.
2. A fundamental knowledge and understanding of the teaching of the Catholic Church, and a faith commitment to those teaching in their entirely.
3. Commitment to the Magisterium of the Church as contained in official Church documents, with a special emphasis upon the spirit and teachings of the Second Vatican Council and subsequent implementing documents; commitment to follow the leadership of the Archbishop as the authentic Teacher within the Archdiocese. The candidate must understand and accept the extraordinary teaching of our Holy Father in Pastores Dabo Vobis.
4. Strong moral character and an evident commitment to integrity, honesty, and personal and social justice.
5. A genuine desire to serve others over the pursuit and satisfaction of one’s personal interests, with a strong commitment to an appropriately simple life-style and willingness to serve the poor and to accept assignment to less affluent parishes.
6. Physical, mental and emotional health, as evidenced by the absence of inhibiting disabilities and potentially serious medical conditions; a balanced approach to work, prayer and leisure; appropriate expression of emotions; good stress management skills and freedom from addictions; where pertinent, five years of sobriety and continuing successful involvement in recovery program.
7. Age appropriate psycho-sexual maturity.
8. Commitment to and ability to live a life of celibacy according to the call of Christ, including celibate living for two years prior to entering the seminary and throughout the entire period of formation. Pursuing the virtue of chastity enhances overall priestly holiness.
9. Proven academic ability to complete graduate theological studies, etc.
10. Willingness to coorperate with the vision and mission of the
the Archdiocese, the Archbishop, and appropriate Archdiocese officals and
leaders. Universal Church
11. Good interpersonal skills for sustaining relationships and fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of ministry, including evidence of sound peer relationships.
12. Pastoral sensitivity demonstrated by genuine care and compassion for others, a clear sense of prudence, as well as an aptitude for acquiring pastoral skills.
13. Ability to work collaboratively with laymen, laywomen, women religious, permanent Deacons, other priests, and the Regional Bishops.
14. Demonstrable leadership skills and the ability to show initiative in pastoral and personal situations, together with the desire to inculcate sound liturgical presiding skills – to serve as a leader of prayer.
15. Ability to minister in two or more pastoral languages, with Spanish the most often needed.
16. Appropriate appreciation and respect for diversity and multiculturalism, especially as these factors present themselves in the religious traditions of the various ethnic groups.
17. Requisite communication skills.”
* It should be noted that all the “characteristics” mentioned in this article are ones that are consistant with the “issues of human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation” that had been set clearly to incorporate during the lifetime of Pope John Paul II (now Saint) in his noted 1992 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhoration, Pastores Dabo Vogis, articles 43-59, and as described in The Program for Priestly Formation.
As one can see, there are many key characteristics that are needed for the formation of a seminarian to the priesthood. It is a time when any Archdiocese is prudent in having seminarians that reflect these characteristics for holy and well qualified priests that bring greater compassion, holiness, communication and strength for a lifetime of service.
If you would like to find out more about the
vocations program or to contact the Vocations
Office, please see www.lavocations.org. Los