The Seminary System

Why men enter the seminary:

There is a myth that once a man enters seminary that the decision is final, that he will surely become a priest. But that is not the case. Seminary formation allows a man to continue and deepen his discernment. He is spiritually trained and conditioned to be a man who is “ever attentive” to the voice of God moving in his heart. Over the years of formation the seminary provides the seminarian with a solid and tested foundation, required to take on the priestly ministry of Jesus Christ, given at ordination.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans is served by two seminaries, both located within the archdiocesan territory, St Josephs Seminary and Notre Dame Seminary.

St Joseph Seminary College (Minor Seminary):

St Joseph Seminary CollegeSaint Joseph Seminary College is a community of faith and learning in the liberal arts rooted in the Benedictine tradition that promotes the development of the whole person. The formation program fosters the commitment of seminarians to the Roman Catholic priesthood in accordance with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Program of Priestly Formation. The Seminary College course of training also fulfills the requirements of ecclesiastical norms and offers a major in Philosophy and the Liberal Arts or in Philosophy and Theological Studies.

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Notre Dame Seminary (Major Seminary):

Notre Dame SeminaryThe ‘pre-theology program’ prepares seminarians to enter the graduate theology program through two years of rigorous philosophical training. This enables men studying to think critically and effectively. After completing pre-theological studies, men continue as graduates (theological seminarian) and enter the Masters study program. Both ‘Masters of Divinity’ and a ‘Master of Arts in Theological Studies’ degree are offered at Notre Dame Seminary.

While primarily preparing men to serve as priests in the southern region of the United States, Notre Dame Seminary participates in the missionary activity of the Church by promoting a spirit of mission among its candidates for priesthood and by assisting certain missionary dioceses in other areas of the world and the wider United States.

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Considerations in Formation:

As dictated in the ‘Program for Priestly Formation’ – (Mandated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB)

“The Seminary should have a precise program of life with one aim which justifies the existence of the Seminary: preparation of future priests.” (Pastores dabo vobis, no. 61)

The goal is the development NOT just of a well-rounded person, a prayerful person, or an experienced pastoral practitioner, but rather one who understands his spiritual development within the context of his call to service in the Church, his human development within the greater context of his call to advance the mission of the Church, his intellectual development as the appropriation of the Church’s teaching and tradition, and his pastoral formation as participation in the active ministry of the Church.

The human, spiritual, intellectual, & pastoral formation are to be read in this unified and integrated sense. They are interrelated aspects of a human response to God’s transforming grace.

Clearly human formation is the foundation for the other three pillars. Spiritual formation informs the other three. Intellectual formation appropriates and understands the other three. Pastoral formation expresses the other three pillars in practice.

It is both possible and necessary to integrate human formation with the other three pillars of formation – the spiritual, the intellectual, and the pastoral. Human formation is linked to spiritual formation by the Incarnate Word and by the fact that grace builds on nature and perfects nature. Human formation is linked to intellectual formation by the cultivation of the human functions of perception, analysis, and judgment. It also contributes to intellectual formation by enabling seminarians to pursue theology as a response to the questions of the human condition. Human formation is finally linked to pastoral formation, which enables a priest to connect with and care for others with his human personality.