Throughout the years of training seminarians participate in human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation. Human formation is the basis of all Priestly formation, as it shapes the seminarian’s personality in such a way that it becomes a bridge to lead others to Jesus Christ through the integration of his social, affective and physical needs. Spiritual formation, essential for spiritual growth and discernment, forms the seminarian in a closer relationship with Christ with the guidance of a spiritual director.
Intellectual formation focuses on the various branches of theology that leads the seminarian to a greater appreciation of the Word of God and the teaching of the Church. Pastoral activities are organized, throughout the training period, to help the seminarian learn to minister to God’s people in the model of Christ the Good Shepherd.
Training as a seminarian is enjoyable and challenging, living alongside other people with similar goals and values. As a community the seminary has various social and sporting activities throughout the year.
The First Year programme has been part of the seminary since the early 1980s and has been found to be invaluable to the overall growth of the candidates for priesthood as they begin their full-time study. The year is predominantly concerned with the human and spiritual areas of formation, while also addressing introductory courses in academic formation, and an initial exposure to pastoral formation.
Years 2 – 4
It is in these years that the seminarian works towards Bachelor of Theology at Good Shepherd College. This degree is made up of courses in theology, scripture. Ethics, church history, liturgy, philosophy, spirituality, canon law as well as pastoral care. The seminary year follows the university year with a break over the summer months. During this break students are encouraged to assist in a parish or find summer employment.
Year 5 (Pastoral Year)
This year is spent in the seminarian’s home diocese. Their bishop appoints him to work in a parish. During this time the seminarian has a more practical experience of pastoral activities. He is involved in all aspects of parish life such as: Communion to the sick, preaching, helping parents to prepare children for baptism, first Holy Communion and Confirmation, involvement in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Seminarians find that parishioners are genuinely delighted to have a seminarian in the parish and in turn the seminarian receives much encouragement from the parishioners.
Years 6 – 7
These years take place at the seminary. They comprise of those papers that help prepare the seminarian more directly for his new priestly life. At the end of the sixth year, ordination to the Diaconate take place. Approximately six months later he is ordained a priest. The bishop will then appoint him to a parish in the Diocese where he will be an assistant priest, ministering to the People of God with guidance from the parish priest.