St. Mary's Seminary » Priestly Formation

Priestly Formation

It is the purpose of the Seminary to provide an environment in which “the stay with Jesus” can lead to a mature response to follow his call to special discipleship as his priestly minister. This environment includes a sequential program which encourages and fosters spiritual and emotional maturity and intellectual and cultural growth.

The Second Vatican Council decreed that the entire training of seminarians “should be oriented to the formation of true shepherds after the model of Our Lord Jesus Christ, teacher, priest and shepherd” (Decree on Training of Priests, n. 4). The Program of Priestly Formation (Fifth Edition-2006, no. 26) has further specified the Church’s expectations for candidates for the priesthood at the theology level:

Priestly life lived in configuration to Jesus Christ, Head and Shepherd, must necessarily manifest and give witness to the radicalism of the Gospel. In other words, priests are called to a way of life that gives evident and transparent witness to the power of the Gospel at work in their lives.

The elements of such a lifestyle–named here and to be developed elsewhere in the PPF–include:

  • A way of life permeated by the three-fold charge given priests at ordination to teach, to sanctify, and to govern.
  • A life of steady prayer first and foremost centered in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Hours, and the liturgical cycles, also in prayer that is personal and devotional.
  • A deep devotion to the person of Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, Lord and Savior.
  • A life of obedience that is apostolic, communal, and pastoral.
  • A life lived in communion with one’s bishop and the presbyterate, a communion that includes sacramental, apostolic, and fraternal bonds
  • For religious priests, a life in community with one’s fellow religious in accord with the institute’s rule of life.
  • A life of celibate chastity that serves as both “a sign and stimulus of life, and as a singular source of spiritual fertility in the world” and, being freely accepted, shows that the priest is “consecrated in a new way to Christ” and offers in himself a reflection of the virginal love of Christ for the Church.
  • A life of gratitude for the material blessings of God’s creation coupled with a simple and generous lifestyle that cares for and is in solidarity with the poor, works for universal justice, makes itself ready and available for all those in need, administers the goods of the community with utmost honesty, and offers a courageous prophetic witness in the world.
  • A life that embraces “the mind and heart of missionaries open to the needs of the Church and the world.
  • A life that promotes the array of ecclesial vocations
  • In teaching about Priestly Formation Pope John Paul II wrote:

    "The high point of Christian prayer is the Eucharist, which in its turn is to be seen as the "summit and source" of the sacraments and the Liturgy of the Hours. A totally necessary aspect of every Christian, and in particular of every priest, is liturgical formation, in the full sense of becoming inserted in a living way in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ who died and rose again, and is present and active in the Church’s sacraments….

    [Seminarians] should be trained to consider the Eucharistic celebration as the essential moment of their day, in which they will take an active part and at which they will never be satisfied with a merely habitual attendance. Finally, candidates to the priesthood will be trained to share in the intimate dispositions which the Eucharist fosters: gratitude for heavenly benefits received, because the Eucharist is thanksgiving; an attitude of self-offering which will impel them to unite the offering of themselves to the Eucharistic offering of Christ; charity nourished by a sacrament which is a sign of unity and sharing; the yearning to contemplate and bow in adoration before Christ who is really present under the Eucharistic species." (Pastores Dabo Vobis, #48)

    The daily celebration of the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours in our Seminary Chapel are the heart and spirit of our community life.
  • The seminary is "above all an educational community in progress: it is a community established by the Bishop to offer to those called by the Lord to serve as Apostles the possibility of re-living the experience of formation which our Lord provided for the Twelve." (Pastores Dabo Vobis, #60)

    The overall formation of the seminarian includes the time for study and prayer, as well as the time for recreation and friendship. United with the leadership of the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, and the Bishops of our sponsoring dioceses our seminarians look forward to the day when they will be ordained to the presbyteral brotherhood of their diocese.
  • Each person is born into a specific ethnic family with a variety of cultural traditions. Culture forms us with a particular view of life, attitudes, values, behaviors, and rituals. Culture influences our personal interaction with others and influences how we minister or "do business" with another. This influence is largely unconscious and, therefore, can interfere with effective communication and personal interactions without being recognized as the source of the problem.

    Respect for culture is rooted in the dignity of people in GOd's image. The Church shows its esteem for this dignity by working to ensure that pluralism, not assimilation and uniformity, is the guiding principle in the life of communities in both the ecclesial and secular societies. All of us in the Church must broaden the embrace with which we greet our brothers and sisters who are different form us, and deepen our commitment to them.