The human formation of the priest shows its special importance when related to the receivers of the mission: in order that his ministry may be humanly as credible and acceptable as possible, it is important that the priest should mould his human personality in such a way that it becomes a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ….
[Pope John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis. On the Formation of Priests #43]
The human formation programme is a foundation for and an essential constituent of the overall formation programme and is closely inter linked with academic, pastoral and spiritual formation. Its overall aim is to enable the student to grow in inner freedom, so that he is more able to give himself to the love and service of God and his people.
The programme strives to cultivate human qualities that enable the student to be a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ. In practice this means fostering development in a number of areas, including the following:
• self-identity: self-understanding, self-acceptance and a healthy self-esteem make for greater generosity in love and service of others
• the capacity to relate in a mature and warm way
• integration of one’s emotional needs and desires
• mature attitudes to one’s sexuality and a willingness to embrace a healthy celibate lifestyle
• the capacity to take initiatives and assume leadership roles in a confident and assured way, avoiding
rigidity of attitudes
• the capacity for self-transcendence and renunciation and the ability to embrace the sacrifices and self-
denial that a life of service entails.
Elements of the Human Formation Programme
• The human formation programme assumes “the absolute primacy of grace in vocation” [PDV #34,36].
• The programme endeavours to take account of the particular life experience of each student so as to
serve his best interest and enable him to build upon his strengths while acknowledging his
• Personal responsibility for growth to Christian maturity is the bedrock of the programme, requiring
the student to be an active agent in his own formation. Encouragement and challenge are offered through the community life he lives and through his frequent interactions with his Director of Formation, his Spiritual Director and his Pastoral Director. Regular meetings between the student and his Director of Formation provide an opportunity for periodic evaluation of a student’s formation journey while in seminary.
• In order to address with greater objectivity his own strengths and weaknesses, each student is encouraged to meet with the Vocational Growth Counsellor, a full-time position in the College.
Many students take vocational growth counselling of their own choice, while some may be encouraged to do so by those involved in other areas of their formation. In all cases, these meetings require the consent of the student and are treated confidentially. Vocational growth counselling offers the student a unique opportunity to ensure that he is humanly as prepared as possible for the work to which he is called.
• Psychological assessments can make a positive contribution to a student’s growth in his formation journey, especially when development appears to be at a standstill. Many students profit through this type of assessment as it can help locate emotional blockages and indicate ways forward.
Psychological assessments are intended as a help to the student and an opportunity for growth. Many dioceses require a psychological assessment of those who apply for entry into the seminary. In all cases the psychological assessment takes its place alongside the assessments of other people concerned with the student or prospective student.
• As holistic development is emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical and aesthetic, the student is encouraged to participate in the various facets of life on campus –
debating, music, student literary productions, film and theatre, conferences and lectures, sporting and leisure facilities, societies, etc.