Formation Household Placements
The Director of Formation makes recommendations to the General Superior for assignments of seminarians to houses of formation. Factors he will consider are household size, stability, the presence of worship leaders, and specific requests made by seminarians themselves.
Role of the Local Superior
The authority of the local superior (commonly referred to as the “house father”) is entirely directed to the service of the integral formation (spiritual, human, intellectual, and pastoral) of the seminarians in his care. He endeavors to get to know each of them personally, ensures the smooth functioning of the household, and fosters fraternal harmony. Every month he meets individually with the seminarians to discuss the progress of their formation and to address any concerns that either he or the seminarian may have. At the end of the year the house father drafts a written evaluation, which will be shown to each seminarian and discussed with him before being submitted to the Director of Formation. House fathers may not serve as spiritual directors or regular confessors of the men in their household.
The harmony, overall well-being, and uniformity of community life in each household necessitates certain clear expectations, guidelines, and rules among members. While allowing for legitimate needs and differences, house fathers are responsible for the proper implementation of house rules and guidelines set by the Director of Formation in consultation with his formation team.
Each seminarian is to regard his household as a home deserving of concern, respect and care. All members should witness to a genuine willingness and desire to serve one another through the small, ordinary, and even mundane tasks that are necessary to maintaining cleanliness, good order, and overall harmony in their households.
Households for Seminarians in Theology
Households for seminarians in the later stages of formation tend to practice a more collegial style of decision-making with respect to general organization and expectations.
Local Superiors in Households for Seminarians in Theology
House fathers for men in theology will often be involved in pastoral ministry, either part-time or full-time. Their overall approach will be less directly “hands-on.” Rather, they will expect seminarians to take more initiative and responsibility for their own formation.
Share groups are small gatherings of brothers (three or four) in the community for the purpose of mutual personal support, encouragement, and growth in fraternal relationships. Ordinarily, share groups meet biweekly at a regularly scheduled time. After each sharing, in turn, members receive personal prayer ministry through the laying on of hands by the other brothers present. Matters discussed in a share group are to be kept in strict confidence except in cases of perceived grave harm to the individual or public scandal.
Spiritual direction is one of the essential means whereby seminarians are assisted in their ongoing discernment of their vocations, in their growth in personal prayer and intimacy with the Lord, in requisite self-knowledge and self-love, and in the virtues and fruits of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual directors should be priests approved by the Director of Formation.
The purpose of a monthly social is to provide an opportunity for each household to recreate together as a means for fostering fraternal relationships in community. The form of such recreation is left up to each household to determine.
The men are generally expected to attend all of the events that have been scheduled for the Society during the course of the academic year.
The purpose of formation nights is to provide a regular forum for specific formation input, teaching, and discussion with seminarians apart from their academic program of studies. The format is flexible but normally includes a specific teaching or introduction of a topic followed by a group discussion.
The nature and purpose of the monthly interview between the house father and individual seminarian is threefold: (1) to provide a regular forum for personal supervision of seminarians with regard to general formation issues; (2) to provide an opportunity for each seminarian to raise personal concerns, questions, or issues with his house father on a regular basis; (3) to ensure a minimum opportunity for house fathers to grow in personal relationship with each seminarian within their households.
Seminarians beginning their theology are to be engaged more regularly in the liturgical life of the Church, particularly in the parish where they live. Seminarians should be regularly serving Mass, and serving as lectors and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion where this is needed and appropriate.
Pastoral Ministry Assignments
Applicants do not engage in pastoral ministry, because their formation is more focused on the human and spiritual aspects. Seminarians who have made their first temporary commitment to the Society begin to participate in a specific pastoral ministry during the regular formation year.
As a norm, applicants will be required to seek summer employment to raise personal funds towards their formation expenses, as well as for the work and life experience itself. The month of August is a time that the Society breaks from regularly scheduled community prayer and meetings (excepting our annual retreat) and encourages vacation time for its members where feasible. Individual seminarians are free to take their summer vacations (normally up to a month) according to their own work and/or family requirements.
Summer Formation Program
The summer formation program starts after the second year of Applicancy. Seminarians at this stage, because they are now members of the Society in temporary commitment or will be as of that August, will participate in a summer residency and formation program after the completion of their winter academic semester. This program will be directed to ongoing formation issues particularly in the area of pastoral formation.
Annual Community Retreat/Days of Reflection
All seminarians participate in the annual community retreat, which takes place during the week before Labor Day. These days are a privileged gathering of the entire community for the purpose of mutual fellowship and growth in fraternity through communal prayer, teaching, exhortation, discussion, and recreation.
Annual Personal Retreat
Each seminarian is required to make a directed retreat on an annual basis. Depending on the stage of formation these personal retreats are facilitated by the Society, ordinarily during the first week of the summer formation program early in May. Otherwise, it is up to each seminarian, under the supervision of his house father, to see that arrangements are made to make this retreat.
Devotion to Mary
A privileged instrument and most efficacious agent of formation which the Church continues to recommend strongly is personal and communal devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. As Companions of the Cross, our devotion to Mary is rooted in our consecration to Jesus through her Immaculate Heart. Within our houses of formation both the communal and individual recitation of the Rosary are encouraged and fostered.