The whole formation imparted to candidates for the priesthood aims at preparing them to enter into communion with the charity of Christ the Good Shepherd. Hence, their formation in its different aspects must have a fundamentally pastoral character.
Pastores dabo vobis, paragraph 57.
The Programme Year by Year
In years 1 to 3 and then years 5 to 7, all students spend half a day a week in a supervised pastoral placement, which changes each year. When possible, they go two by two. Fourth year students spend time living and working in a parish.
First year students are placed with Catholic institutions that care for aged, poor, or addicted people; and which have Mass and the Prayer of the Church as part of their daily programme. In addition to their weekly visit, the students live in for three weeks in July.
Usually, second year students are placed in Catholic primary schools; third year students in Catholic secondary schools; and post-pastoral year students in a variety of institutions, including hospitals, prisons and chaplaincies.
All students meet regularly in groups, with the participation of experienced priests and pastoral associates, for reflection on their activities and instruction in pastoral theology. In addition, classes in liturgical and musical formation, public speaking and communication and basic pastoral counselling skills are given throughout the course. Students approaching ordination are trained in liturgical leadership and the administration of the sacraments.
The Pastoral Internship
The time spent living and working in a parish is carefully planned and supervised. The activities of the student depend to some extent on the parish, but they include assisting with liturgies, preaching, catechetics, youth work, visiting, care of the sick and administrative support. The supervision includes:
- a weekly interview with the Parish Priest
- regular contact with seminary staff, including the Rector
- regular meetings with the other pastoral year students for formation and theological reflection
- sessions with a “feedback group” of parishioners