"... We are the clay, You are the potter; ... " Is 64:8
I have come that they may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).
The whole work of priestly formation would be deprived of its necessary foundation if it lacked a suitable human formation (PastoresDaboVobis, 43).
The seminary 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 (UPPPF, 18). Human formation, when it is carried out in the context of an anthropology which is open to the full truth regarding man [human person], leads to and finds its completion in spiritual formation (PastoresDaboVobis, 45).
In large seminaries, the students should be suitably organized in smaller groups, to enable more personal attention to be given to each student, while retaining unity of discipline and scientific training (OptatamTotius, 7).
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. PastoresDaboVobis, 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 to fulfill his pastoral ministry.”(Updated Philippine Program for Priestly Formation, 95; cf. PastoresDaboVobis, 51).
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).
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 (OptatamTotius, 4).
Hence, St. John Vianney Theological Seminary “aims at forming future servant-leaders 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” (PastoresDaboVobis 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,1)
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).
The spiritual life of the seminarians takes its main pattern from Christ the Priest, with whom future priests have a special fellowship through their vocation. Since they must share ‘in the one priesthood and ministry of Christ’ (PresbyterorumOrdinis, no.7), they must be conformed with Him not only through sacred Ordination, but with their whole heart, gradually by daily effort taking up the life taught by the Gospel.
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 and others issued after the council.