The priestly community of teachers should feel united in the responsibility of educating candidates for the priesthood. It is their duty, always with regard to the authoritative evaluation made by the bishop and the rector together, to foster and verify the suitability of the candidates in regard to their spiritual, human and intellectual endowments, above all in regard to their spirit of prayer, their deep assimilation of the doctrine of the faith, their capacity for true fraternity and the charism of celibacy.
Pastores dabo vobis, paragraph 66.
Each student belongs to a six or seven member Formation Group which meets weekly with a different staff member to bring together the four components of formation and discernment. The groups are organised according to the stage of the course that the students have reached.
Three or four times a year, the Rector has a meeting with each seminarian to discuss progress in formation and to reflect on the decision that both the seminarian and the Church must make about his ordination.
The Rector regularly consults the formation staff and academic and pastoral supervisors on each seminarian’s progress and suitability. He makes an annual report to and consults often with each bishop, who must make the final decision whether or not to call a candidate to ordination.
These consultations and discussions never involve the spiritual directors.
Lector, Acolyte, Candidate
As the seminarian proceeds through the course, these steps come up for consideration. Sometimes, they are the occasion for a decision, whether by the Church or by the seminarian himself, to discontinue in the formation program. Otherwise, they are signs of encouragement to continue formation and discernment. The Ministry of Lector is usually given in third year; the Ministry of Acolyte in fourth; and admission as a Candidate for Ordination in fifth year.
A final decision, by the student and the bishop, is made about six to nine months before ordination as a deacon. Men on the way to ordination as priests then spend between six and twelve months exercising diaconal ministry.