USML | Priestly Formation

Mundelein Seminary

Priestly Formation

Welcome to the Mundelein Seminary’s homepage for Priestly Formation.  From here you can navigate our website to learn more about our Formation Program.   

Mundelein Seminary takes seriously our dedication to prepare seminarians to become future priests of the New Millennium.   With a team of talented priests, lay faculty and staff we strive to follow and integrate the “Program of Priestly Formation (PPF).”  Specifically, you can investigate how we live out the four pillars of the PPF:  Human, Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral. 

It is an honor to work with and prepare the men at Mundelein Seminary.  I hope you find these webpages to be helpful and enlightening about our Priestly Formation Program.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Rev. Brian Welter 

Dean of Formation

Here is a video by the former Dean of Formation, Rev. Ronald Hicks, on the principles of priestly formation at Mundelein Seminary. 

About Us

The Formation Program at Mundelein Seminary takes its directives from the “Program of Priestly Formation,” commonly referred to as the “PPF.”  Throughout these webpages, various quotes from the PPF will be highlighted.

The fifth edition of the Program of Priestly Formation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) builds upon the foundation of previous editions. The principal and new direction of the fifth edition stems from its reliance on the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis (I Will Give You Shepherds: On the Formation of Priests in the Circumstances of the Present Day, 1992) to organize and integrate the program of priestly formation. Two other papal documents also enter into the vision and shaping of priestly formation: Novo millennio ineunte (At the Close of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, 2001) and Ecclesia in America (The Church in America, 1999).  (PPF, page 1)

At Mundelein Seminary, when implementing the PPF, we also follow and take seriously the direction and input of:      

Archbishop Blase J. Cupich 

Sending Bishops

Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory (Archbishop of Atlanta, Georgia)

Most Reverend Michael O. Jackels (Archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa)

Most Reverend Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon (Archbishop of Hà Nôi, Vietnam)

Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann (Archbishop of Kansas City, Kansas)

Most Reverend Edward Scharfenberger (Bishop of Albany, New York)

Most Reverend Michael P. Driscoll (Bishop of Boise, Idaho)

Most Reverend Martin J. Amos (Bishop of Davenport, Iowa)

Most Reverend Richard E. Pates (Bishop of Des Moines, Iowa)

Most Reverend Mark J. Seitz (Bishop of El Paso, Texas)

Very Reverend Michael Zielke, O.F.M. Conv. (Conventual Franciscans)

Most Reverend Donald J. Hying (Bishop of Gary, Indiana)

Most Reverend Steven J. Raica (Bishop of Gaylord, Michigan)

Most Reverend David Walkowiak (Bishop of Grand Rapids, Michigan)

Most Reverend David L. Ricken (Bishop of Green Bay, Wisconsin) 

Most Reverend R. Daniel Conlon (Bishop of Joliet, Illinois)

Most Reverend Paul J. Bradley (Bishop Kalamazoo, Michigan)

Most Reverend Paul Ssemogerere (Bishop of Kasana-Luweero, Uganda)

Most Reverend Richard F. Stika (Bishop of Knoxville, Tennessee)

Most Reverend William Callahan, O.F.M. Conv (Bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin)

Most Reverend James A. Tamayo (Bishop of Loredo, Texas)

Most Reverend Oscar Cantú (Bishop of Las Cruces, New Mexico)

Most Reverend Joseph Pepe (Bishop of Las Vegas, Nevada)

Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C. (Bishop of Peoria, Illinois)

Most Reverend David J. Malloy (Bishop of Rockford, Illinois)

Most Reverend Joseph R. Cistone (Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan)

Most Reverend Michael Sis (Bishop of San Angelo, Texas)

Most Reverend Thomas J. Paprocki (Bishop of Springfield, Illinois)

Most Reverend James V. Johnston (Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, MO)

Most Reverend Stephen E. Blaire (Bishop of Stockton, California)

Most Reverend Gerald F. Kicanas (Bishop of Tucson, Arizona)

Most Reverend Joseph J. Tyson (Bishop of Yakima, Washington)

Most Reverend Jean Mbarga (Bishop of Ebolowa; Apostolic Administrator, Yaounde)

Vocation Directors 

Reverend Anthony Ligato

Reverend Tim Hepburn (Archdiocese of Atlanta)

Reverend Jerry Funke (Diocese of Boise)

Reverend Thom Hennen (Diocese of Davenport)

Reverend Dan Kirby (Diocese of Des Moines)

Reverend Joseph Pins (Diocese of Des Moines)

Reverend David Schatz (Director of Seminarians)

Reverend Miguel Angel Sanchez (Diocese of El Paso) 

Fr. Anthony Lajato, OFM Conv. (Marytown)

Bro. Joseph Wood (Sacred Heart Friary)

Reverend David Kime 

Reverend Don Geyman (Diocese of Gaylord)

Reverend Ronald Hutchinson (Diocese of Grand Rapids)

Reverend Daniel Schuster (Diocese of Green Bay)

Reverend Burke Masters (Diocese of Joliet) 

Reverend Scott Wallisch (Archdiocese of Kansas City)

Reverend Mitchel Zimmerman (Diocese of Topeka)

Reverend Christopher Derda (Diocese of Kalamazoo)

Msgr. Michael Mullen (Diocese of Kansas City)

Reverend Joseph Reed (Diocese of Knoxville)

Reverend Alan P. Wierzba (Diocese of La Crosse)

Reverend Iden Bello (Diocese of Laredo)

Reverend Ricardo Bauza (Diocese of Las Cruces, NM)

Reverend Mugaggo Lule (Diocese of Las Vegas)

Msgr. Brian Brownsey (Diocese of Peoria)

Reverend Keith Romke (Diocese of Rockford)

Reverend William J. Rutkowski (Diocese of Saginaw, MI)

Reverend Rodney White (Diocese of San Angelo, TX)

Reverend Bryan Dolejsi (Archdiocese of Seattle)

Reverend Brian Alford (Diocese of Springfield)

Reverend John F. Friedel (Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau)

Sr. Wanda M. Billion, MSC (Diocese of Stockton)

Msgr. Al Schifano (Diocese of Tucson) 

Reverend Felipe Pulido (Diocese of Yakima)

Reverend Francis Bitterman (Archdiocese of Chicago) 

ATS (The Association of Theological Schools)


Board of Advisors 

Together, with a dedicated team of priests, professors and staff, we work to establish a comprehensive and solid PRIESTLY FORMATION PROGRAM at Mundelein Seminary.

In the current edition of the PPF, the bishops of the United States have taken the directions and vision of the Holy See and reflected on the lived experience of seminaries in the United States and then formulated this edition of the program. The PPF, then, is normative for United States seminary programs and serves as a basis for future visitations. At the same time, each seminary, with the approval of the diocesan bishop or the bishops concerned, or of the religious superior as the case may be, is to develop, articulate, and implement its own particular program in conformity with the PPF. (PPF, page 3)

Formation Components

Human Formation

The basic principle of human formation is that the human personality of the priest is to be a bridgeand not an obstacle for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ the Redeemer of the human race….Human formation is the “necessary foundation” of priestly formation. (PPF, #75)

Formation Advisors

Formation advisors:  They observe seminarians and assist them to grow humanly by offering them feedback about their general demeanor, their relational capacities and styles, their maturity, their capacity to assume the role of a public person and leader in a community, and their appropriation of the human virtues that make them “men of communion.” These same formators may, on occasion, teach the ways of human development and even offer some personal mentoring or, at times, coaching. More generally, they offer encouragement, support, and challenge along the formational path. These formators function exclusively in the external forum and are not to engage in matters that are reserved for the internal forum and the spiritual director.  (PPF, #80)

Frequency: Three times per semester for about 1 hour with each seminarian.

  • Check in, challenge and encourage.
  • Review covenant with the seminarian.
  • Review specific issues and four pillars.

Class Formation Sequences

Pre-Theology I Sessions

Pre-Theology II Sessions

1 Theology Sessions

2 Theology Sessions

3 Theology Sessions

4 Theology Sessions

Spiritual Formation

The basic principle of spiritual formation is to live in intimate and unceasing union with God the Father through his Son, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. This is the foundational call to discipleship and conversion of heart. (PPF, #107)

Spiritual Direction

Spiritual directors: These priests, functioning in the internal forum, also play a role in the human formation of seminarians.  When they engage in the dialogue of spiritual direction with seminarians, they can be of great assistance in cultivating those virtues of self-reflection and self-discipline that are foundational for human development. (PPF, #80)

Psychological counseling: On occasion, consultation with a psychologist or other licensed mental health professional can be a useful instrument of human formation. Some patterns of behavior, for example, which became set in the candidate’s early family history, may impede his relational abilities. Understanding one’s psychological history and developing strategies to address elements of negative impact can be very helpful in human formation. (PPF, #80)

Intellectual Formation

The basic principle of intellectual formation for priesthood candidates is “For the salvation of their brothers and sisters, they should seek an ever deeper knowledge of the divine mysteries.” Disciples are learners. (PPF, #137)

Direct link to Academic Menu for M. Div.

Pastoral Formation

The basic principle of pastoral formation is to make them true shepherds of souls after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, teacher, priest, and shepherd.”To be a true “shepherd of souls” means standing with and for Christ inthe community, the Christ who teaches and sanctifies and guides or leadsthe community. (PPF, #238)

      Field Education

      Mission Trip

            - Tohono O’odham trip

            - CRS trip




Walking the Three Paths

By Very Reverend Robert Barron 

Mundelein Seminary leads our students down three great spiritual paths that have always struck me as extremely helpful for thinking about the Christian life: finding the Center, knowing you are a sinner, and realizing your life is not about you.

Path one was beautifully expressed by St. Paul when he remarked, "It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me." Paul was announcing that the center of his life was no longerhis own ego, with its distinctive projects and plans, but rather Christ Jesus. Now everything in him – mind, will, passions, talents, etc. – would be in service to Christ and his purposes. Kierkegaard said that a saint is someone whose life is about one thing. He did not mean the saint lives a monotonous existence, but rather all of the elements that constitute the saint's being are gathered around, focused upon, the Lord alone. What this singular attention produces is the beautiful and integrated soul. 

Path two – knowing you are a sinner – follows ineluctably from path one. It is precisely in the light of grace that one understands how far one has departed from the way of God. St. John of the Cross compared a soul to a pane of glass and observed that it is when the light is shining most directly on the glass that the marks and smudges on it are most apparent. Because St. Augustine could "confess" the praise of God, he also was able to "confess" his sin. If the consideration of the Christian spiritual life commences with sin, it gets rather quickly off the rails, devolving into pelagianism or puritanism. It begins indeed in grace, but then moves naturally to the acknowledgement of sin and the deep willingness to do something about it. Path two is, accordingly, the "purgative way" of which so many of our spiritual masters speak. One of the greatest guides on path two is the poet Dante. In his Divine Comedy, he recounts the journey that he made up the seven story mountain of Purgatory, coming to terms with all of the deadly sins. Anyone who is serious about guiding others on the spiritual journey has to be willing to undergo the "searching moral inventory" that is path two. 

Having been purified, the Christian disciple is ready to be sent. In the Bible, no one is ever given an experience of God without being given, subsequently, a mission. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Matthew, Peter and Paul: all of them are commissioned by the God of Israel to go forth. 

Path three – realizing your life is not about you– is all about this spiritual adventure. Hans Urs von Balthasar was gesturing toward this path when he spoke of making a transition from the "ego-drama" to the "theo-drama." The former is the drama we write, produce, direct and, above all, star in; the latter is the drama written, produced and directed by God. Being the star of the ego drama amounts, finally, to nothing. Joseph Campbell said most of us climb the later of success only to find out it's up the wrong wall! But being a bit player in the theo-drama –acting the role God wants us to play – is to discover the pearl of great price and the treasure buried in the field. 

Anyone who wants to be a priest of Jesus Christ must be willing to be an apostle, which is to say, someone who is sent. Anyone aspiring to the priesthood must, like the prophet Isaiah, say, "Here I am Lord! Send me!" He must, in a word, be willing to commit himself to parth three, realizing in his bones that his life is not about him. 

From grace through purgation to mission: that is the threefold rhythm of the Christian spiritual life; that will be the pattern of our formation program. 

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