The Ten Aims of Mundelein Seminary Formation
The primary objective of the Formation Program at Mundelein Seminary is to help prepare men for parish priesthood. The seminary seeks to develop true pastors, mature and holy men, who will live, work, and pray with the people they serve in parish ministry. To that end, we pursue the following ten aims:
1. To help the seminarian develop a vital spiritual life appropriate to one pre-paring for ministerial priesthood of Jesus Christ, Priest, Prophet and King. To grow in his priestly identity as a beloved child of God, disciple of Jesus Christ, and one called to loving service of God’s people. To develop a sense of mission which flows from the man’s identity. To develop a lively personal and liturgical prayer life.
Tomorrow’s priests must be men of prayer, of an active intellectual life and of a sincere and heartfelt love for God’s people. To that end, the seminary fosters growth in prayer, and a love of study, in many ways.
- The Eucharist is the center of all Christian formation and the core of priestly formation. Attendance at daily Eucharist is required for the entire seminary community.
- The Liturgy of the Hours is the official prayer of every diocesan priest. Seminarians are taught the “why” and “how” of the Liturgy of the Hours and they are encouraged to make the Liturgy of the Hours their special prayer with and for the Church. The Pro-gram of Priestly Formation prescribes gradual practice of all the Hours; by third year of theology, all should be regularly praying all five hours.
- Spiritual direction is an essential part of the Formation Program of the seminary and one’s prayer life. It is a safe and confidential internal forum in which a man may discuss his spiritual life and growth in intimacy and freedom in the Lord. Any life experiences, good or bad, positive or negative, life-giving or challenging can be the “stuff” of spiritual direction. The seminarian chooses his own spiritual director and meets every two weeks with this priest. The spiritual director cannot participate in any seminary feedback or evaluative process for his directees.
- The Sacrament of Reconciliation is an important element in the life of every priest and seminarian. The sacrament is available to every seminarian on a weekly basis. Seminarians are encouraged to avail themselves of the sacrament with regularity. In addition, there are communal celebrations of Reconciliation in preparation for Christmas and Easter. The sacrament is always available on a personal basis to the seminarians with any priest, with the exception of the Rector and Seminary Administrators.
- Spiritual retreats are a constitutive element of every seminarian’s life. A five-day on-campus preached retreat begins the fall semester for Pre-Theologians, First Theologians, and Second Theologians. The Third and Fourth Year theologians experience a five-day directed retreat. There are retreats prior to reception of the diaconate and the priesthood. In addition, each separate living area (cam) has an overnight during the year as a means of getting to know better other members of the community.
- Mornings of Prayer and recollection are conducted once each semester. A Day of Prayer marks our patronal feast of the Immaculate Conception.
- Seminarians are encouraged to dedicate one hour to personal prayer each day, at least some of that time before the Blessed Sacrament. Adoration is available from 6:00 – 7:00 a.m., Monday through Friday in the Deacon Chapel. Every Sunday evening, at 7:00 p.m. there is an opportunity for Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction in the context of Night Prayer. Deacons will be scheduled to preside. Attendance is highly encouraged but is not mandatory.
- Each day every seminarian should spend time in personal devotional prayer, in reading scripture, praying in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and in cultivating a devotion to Mary. Communal rosary is available each Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. It is led by one of the individual cams and everyone is invited to attend.
- Each of the six years has its own class formation program into which are built elements of prayer, reflection on the Scriptures, presentations and small group work. Faith sharing is encouraged in many of these meetings.
- Since the study and the incorporation of Scripture are of primary importance for priests, each seminarian is expected to learn how to pray the Scriptures. Opportunities for such prayer are built into class formation sessions and seminary retreats.
2. To help the seminarian develop the necessary human qualities and virtues in the seminarian so that he is able to serve as a “a bridge to Christ” (PDV 43) as a diocesan priest, demonstrating in particular affective and psychosexual maturity as well as the ability to form positive relationships with a wide range of people appropriate to one called to live a chaste, celibate life. To help men become men of communion, men ofpastoral charity. Seminary community life, “the matrix of formation,” should promote this human growth.
- While at Mundelein, each seminarian is expected to volunteer for various tasks and responsibilities in the community. At times, he will be asked to take on specific responsibilities by the rector or by members of the faculty.
- Seminarians bear the primary responsibility for their human formation (PPF # 87). This means that, while many opportunities for individual and group formational experiences are presented to him, ultimately he alone determines how deeply he will allow these experiences and these opportunities to prepare him for priesthood. The hope is that he will grow in this sincere spirit of self-motivation which will be very essential to his life as a diocesan priest.
- Each candidate for the priesthood has a “formation advisor” from the faculty during his years in the seminary. The formation advisor works with the man in the external forum. The two meet together at least three times a semester and whenever necessary. The formation advisor is both a helpful guide for the man and also a person of accountability. Together they work out an agreement or covenant at the beginning of each year outlining the expectations of the seminary and a man’s personal goals for his formation. This covenant and how it is carried out is shared with those responsible for the man’s training. To this end, the seminary administration and the formation advisor meet with the man’s vocation director during the year. The formation advisor also writes up a review of the man’s progress towards priesthood at the end of each year. This report is shared with the rector, the man’s bishop, his vocation director and the man himself.
- There are a variety of accountability factors during a man’s stay at the seminary. Each man receives feedback from both peers and faculty on a number of occasions throughout his years here. He also has an opportunity to offer feedback to the seminary itself along the way. During all these processes a man is evaluated in the following areas: his personal development as a candidate for priesthood, his relationship with his advisor, his participation in the public prayer of the seminary, his fulfillment of his field education requirements, his participation in class formation sessions, his participation in community formation sessions, his attendance at the annual retreats, his involvement in cam life, and his academic progress. These are dis-cussed under each program.
3. To help the seminarian develop a lively intellectual life appropriate to dioc-esan priesthood. To grow in the ability to teach and preach the Catholic faith and dedicate himself to life-long learning. God’s people deserve learned as well as holy priests. A love of study is encouraged here as well as a sense of responsibility for ongoing education and formation after ordination.
4. To help the seminarian develop as both a spiritual and religious leader for diocesan priesthood. The priest must be able to guide and lead people to cultivate their relationship with the Triune God. The priest is also a “religious leader” who faithfully represents the Tradition, teaching and practice of the Catholic Church, the “universal sacrament of unity.” Not only is a priest a religious leader entrusted with the responsibility to decide for, direct and guide a particular parish church, he is also a public representative of the larger Church. This means that he must learn to function in a leadership role at all times.
5. To help the seminarian develop a missionary spirit and the ability to evangelizecultures and people according to the call for a “New Evangelization,” especially as it pertains to the poor and marginalized in keeping with the “gospel of life.”
6. To help the seminarian develop the ability for collaborative ministry , not just with the laity, but also with the Bishop and presbyterate, so as to be able to work with men and women who have taken on professional and volunteer roles of service in the Church. Actual experience in the apostolate is an integral part of the seminary program. In the course of his years at Mundelein, a seminarian engages in a variety of ministerial opportunities leading up to priesthood itself.
7. To help the seminarian develop an openness and competency for serving the diverse ethnic and cultural group within the Church and society and a willingness to respond to the changing needs of the Catholic Church.
- The seminary itself is a close reflection of the catholicity of the Church. There are men from Europe, Asia, Africa, and North, Central and South America. There are also priests and religious women from dioceses other than Chicago that are represented on the faculty here at Mundelein. Special emphasis is placed on the development of skills in Hispanic ministry due to the impact of this set of cultures upon the Archdiocese of Chicago, the U.S. Church, and the whole Church.
- During the course of their time here at Mundelein, many men will study Spanish in a summer intensive. Many will take short intensive courses in either Hispanic ministry or African-American culture; there will also be opportunities for language courses in Polish.
- Each Thursday, the Eucharistic Liturgy is conducted in both English and Spanish. At various times during the year, there are liturgies and celebrations of other ethnic and cultural feasts. There is a Hispanic choir, a choir that specializes in various kinds of African music, an Asian choir, and a Polish schola.
8. To help the seminarian develop a spirit of fraternity here at the seminary which will translate into intentional bonds within the presbyterate of his diocese. Many efforts are made to find ways to help seminarians get to know each other well, to trust each other, and to live out their time of preparation for priesthood in a united manner. The fraternity learned in the seminary is a small step towards the fraternity needed in the priesthood. Experience has shown that priesthood grows when shared and supported.
- Cam Life – Mundelein Seminary refers to each floor as a cam, which is a word derived from the Italian word camerata (“dormitory” or living area which promotes Christian community). The seminarian is expected to engage fully in the life of the cam throughout the year. All members of the cam meet regularly each week, once for Evening Prayer on Monday, and again for Prayer and socializing on Wednesdays from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Cam members will experience an annual weekend away from the sem-inary to encourage greater appreciation for one another’s vocation. During the year, many cams will sponsor special events to which all seminarians and faculty is invited. In short, the cam is the day-to-day environment in which, it is hoped, the seminarian will flourish and grow.
- Also, class formation programs are designed to meet special needs and to serve common concerns that arise as seminarians move toward priesthood. They provide opportunities for support and encouragement and for mutual sharing. Each class has a unique program which engages on a weekly basis throughout the school year.
9. To help the seminarian to develop a strong sense of knowledge of and loyalty to the local Church.
- Each seminarian is encouraged to learn about the history of his diocese, to grow in a greater appreciation for the mission of the Church in his diocese, and to know the diocesan policies, agencies and significant personnel who serve the mission.
- During their years in the seminary, the men are encouraged to meet often and regularly with their diocesan brothers. Each Thursday evening, diocesan brothers meet for evening prayer. They also get together informally on other occasions as well.
- The pastoral intensive in the spring semester of second year takes place in a man’s own diocese. During this experience, many dioceses and individual priest supervisors take great care to introduce the men to the various aspects of diocesan life and its institutions.
10. To help the seminarian develop a responsible sense of stewardship for the
spiritual and temporal goods of the Church.
- As part of his Formation Covenant, the seminarian is asked to set goals to help him to be accountable for his own finances. This basic personal responsibility is the foundation for his eventual care of parish resources.
- Men are encouraged to be generous in their charitable giving. There are several opportunities throughout the year for a man to share his financial resources.
- The Formation Covenant lists as a “basic seminary expectation” for all: “To live a lifestyle that incorporates and reflects Gospel values.” A Gospel lifestyle is understood to include the value of simplicity of life.
- Stewardship involves, also, the use of time and talent. Seminarians are encouraged to volunteer on campus for community events regularly.