Pastoral Formation: Rationale
Pastoral theology is practical theology but not simply a skill set of techniques. It “unifies and gives specificity to the whole formation of future priests” (PDV 57). Pastoral charity of the priest asks first and foremost for an ever-deepening communion with the charity of Jesus Christ. This formation is aimed at making him a true shepherd of souls. In the long run it is the most arduous and personally demanding, but not an impossible responsibility. While it develops by mature reflection and application it is nonetheless guided by the spirit of Christ received at ordination.
The sensitivity of being a shepherd is acquired consciously and gradually as the new priest assumes his pastoral responsibilities. He develops in himself in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, “the interior habit of evaluating problems and establishing priorities and looking for solutions on the basis of honest motivations of faith and according to the theological demands inherent in pastoral work” (PDV 57).
Pastoral formation in the Seminary of Christ the King begins in high school. The high school Seminarians take turns every weekend visiting shut-ins, the elderly and the palliative care at the local hospital.
In the College seminary pastoral formation is carried out in various ways. The archdiocesan seminarians during their years in theology are placed in parishes over the summer vacations with specific pastoral experiences in mind. During the academic year there is a week-long pastoral experience in February and several times throughout the year seminarians are engaged in pastoral ministries in neighbouring parishes. These ministries involve teaching catechism, youth nights and catechesis, Summit meetings, CCD formation for teens and hospital visits. From time to time, during the school year, the archdiocese also requests the presence and service of seminarians at important liturgical functions. One of the more important pastoral works involving the seminarians is the promotion of priestly and religious vocations throughout the archdiocese.
The seminary is always open to ways to deepen and broaden the pastoral experience of seminarians without losing sight of the primary goals of the seminary formation. Pastoral experience comes with ‘shepherding’! And seminary formation will always remain in progress in this area.