III Discerning a Vincentian Vocation
Discernment is a process whereby the individual man who senses a call to priesthood or brotherhood takes concrete steps to see if he is being called by God to serve the Church as a Vincentian priest or brother. It begins informally with visits to our community houses and our ministries. The discerner is also given literature about the life and spirituality of St. Vincent de Paul and encouraged to read and discuss it with the Vocation Director. After a period of time, a man is invited to make a discernment retreat. He also agrees to enter into spiritual direction with a Vincentian on a regular basis, and to intensify his prayer life by reading scripture and attending Eucharist on a daily basis.
IV Formation for Mission
Our formation program prepares candidates to become priests or brothers after the model of Jesus and in the charism and way of Vincent de Paul. Formation helps candidates to deepen their spiritual life, learn how to live, work, and pray in a community, and to acquire the necessary theological, pastoral, and interpersonal skills necessary for active ministry, especially in service to the poor.
Our formation program concentrates on several areas key to Vincentian life: theological competence, preparation for ministry, spiritual/personal development, and commitment to life in community as a priest or brother. Let’s briefly describe what we expect in each area.
Theological competence occurs by full-time enrolment in a program of theological studies, which may begin at the college level or the major seminary for post-college candidates. Candidates study to acquire theological education necessary for ministry. This includes courses in scripture, morality, church history, doctrinal development, and pastoral ministry.
Preparation for ministry occurs in pastoral work that supplements the academic program. Candidates spend time serving in a ministerial setting such as visiting the sick in a hospital, tutoring children in a school, or assisting in a Catholic social service agency. Outside the school year, candidates live in a community house and work in Vincentian apostolates to experience firsthand both life in community and active ministry.
Spiritual and personal development refers to a candidate’s responsibility to maintain a vibrant prayer life, engage in regular spiritual direction, and immerse himself in Vincentian spirituality. Along with a Vincentian formator, the candidate reflects on his vocational growth and areas needed for improvement.
Commitment to community life is closely related to preparation for ministry and spiritual and personal growth. By sharing in communal prayer, work, and social events, the seminarian develops skills to foster a healthy community life.