“A Year of Spiritual Foundation” — a human, spiritual, catechetical and pastoral formation program open to new candidates at the seminary — will be offered starting August 24, 2018.
It goes without saying that a priest's spiritual life is the most important aspect of his existence. In any event, the Grand Seminary of Montreal will ensure that this point is made clear from now on.
As described in the new Roman document on the formation of priests, Ratio Fundamentalis, the objective is to "lay a solid foundation for spiritual life and foster a better understanding of oneself for personal growth."
The year will be structured around four key points: the fundamentals of Christian life (priests, classical authors, texts from the Second Vatican Council, Catechism, Scriptures); abstinence from any form of media from Monday to Friday, and moments of silence; community life; two periods of immersion (among the poor, and the experience of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola).
This "Year" has already been established for some time in other parts of the world. In Canada, it has been implemented mainly in Toronto and in Edmonton. "We have been thinking about it here for a long time, and now the right time has come. With the team at the Grand Seminary, we wanted to provide the candidates with a time to simply experience the spiritual life and devote themselves entirely to it. The goal is to become more deeply rooted in Christ. To seek out God's will, and desire his plan of love," explained the Archbishop of Montreal, Most Reverend Christian Lépine.
A few years ago, the Church came to the realization that the men that entered seminary were not necessarily prepared to fully and meekly begin the process of priestly formation. The technological world of today leads them to isolation and rationalization. This, as is pointed out in the document, creates interpersonal difficulties. The spiritual year will give them the opportunity to focus on spirituality and on fraternal life.
Most Reverend Lépine insisted on one thing: no studies, no homework! "There will be meetings, exchanges, conferences, workshops, but there will not be any exams, because when we have exams, we are in study mode, and often set aside our spiritual life. The spiritual year is not as fast-paced as the rest of the formation at the Seminary; those enrolled in the spiritual year are not yet seminarians. A seminarian is a candidate to the priesthood. The spiritual year is for a candidate that will become a seminarian."
A spiritual formation, based on Tradition and Scripture, as well as a very concrete pastoral experience (L'Arche, Faith [&] Light), will develop the "heart of a good shepherd" in the candidates and caution them against any form of clericalism. Put into perspective, this is an extensive (great) program!
The spiritual year will begin on August 24, 2018 with a retreat.