Formation At Holy Apostles
In its preparation of men for the priesthood, Holy Apostles College and Seminary is committed to providing solid formation in all aspects of seminary life, in accord with the directives of the Catholic Church. The HACS seminary formation program is principally guided by the norms established by the United States Bishop’s Program of Priestly Formation Sixth Edition.
Each of the Four Dimensions of priestly formation specified in the Program of Priestly Formation are emphasized:
Formation Team & Spiritual Directors
Seminarian Priestly Formation Team – Priestly Members
- Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA President-Rector
- Fr. Danh Nguyen, MSA Vice-Rector and Priestly Formation Advisor
- Fr. Dominic Anaeto, Priestly Formation Advisor
- Fr. Edward Przygocki, MSA Priestly Formation Advisor
- Fr. Charles Bak, MSA Coordinator of Spiritual Formation
- Fr. Robert Sickler, MSA Spiritual Director
- Fr. Richard Breton, MSA Spiritual Director
- Fr. Tuan Mai, Spiritual Director
Program for Priestly Formation
At Holy Apostles College and Seminary, the Seminary Formation Program is a seven and a half years program divided into the following stages:
- Propaedeutic Stage: One Year, focusing on human and spiritual dimensions. (PPF6, no. 125)
- The Discipleship Stage is the second formal stage of seminary formation, which has “at its core the goal of growing in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ through the life of meditation and contemplation, as well as the training of one’s character in Christian virtue.” (PPF 6, #132)
- Configuration Stage: Four Years, including the Study of Theology. “[D]iaconate ordination upon successful completion of the configuration stage (including four full years of theological studies).” (PPF6, no. 147)
- Vocational Synthesis Stage: 6 months (minimum) in a parish ministry assignment “outside the Seminary building”. (PPF6, no. 139)
The Configuration Stage consists of eight semesters of seminary residence, incorporating the four dimensions of priestly formation as articulated in the Program of Priestly Formation Sixth Edition.
The human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation of candidates for the priesthood has many facets. Disciplined study of theology nourishes a deeper love and stronger possession of faith. The human potential of each candidate must be developed so that each grows in the pastoral skills and personal qualities, including psycho-sexual maturity, which every priest must have in these complex times.
Each seminarian has an individual Spiritual Director and a Priestly Formation Advisor. The Spiritual Directors and Priestly Formation Advisors give guidance for human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral development within the context of prayer and grace though the sacraments, and the living of a generous Christian Life.
Seminary life is nourished by daily celebration of the Holy Eucharist, community celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, personal prayer, spiritual reading, meditation, Eucharistic adoration, praying the rosary, and frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Weekly conferences by the President-Rector or his delegate as well as supplemental workshops overseen by the Human Formation Team focus on affective maturity, psychosocial development, personal and professional boundaries, self-care, work ethic, etc.
The faculty provides an excellent academic program suited to meet the complex circumstances of our time. The M.Div. program consists of 96 credits. In accordance with the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Priestly Training, Optatam Totius, seminarians “learn to penetrate” the truths of our faith “under the guidance of St. Thomas”. (Optatam Totius, 16)
Under St. Thomas’ guidance, candidates for the priesthood are to demonstrate “the ability to uphold the truths of faith by the light of reason. … the ability to integrate academic development with the spiritual and pastoral dimensions (e.g., the growth in knowledge about Jesus Christ deepens his friendship with Christ, his understanding of Christian anthropology influences his approaches to pastoral ministry) … fidelity to the Magisterium in his speech and actions.” (PPF6, 292)
The Human Formation Team serves growth toward human maturity in the important qualities needed for leaders in the Church today, especially chaste celibate living. In certain instances, this team is assisted by counseling professionals.
“The qualities to be fostered in a human formation program are freedom, openness, honesty, flexibility, empathy, joy and inner peace, generosity and justice, chastity, personal maturity, interpersonal skills, common sense, aptitude for ministry, and growth “in moral integrity and public witness.” Following St. Thomas Aquinas, human formation should be understood as education in the human virtues perfected by charity.” (PPF6, 204)
The Coordinator of Spiritual Formation, under the guidance of the Rector, shapes a rich spiritual program which nourishes the entire seminary program.
“The basic principle of spiritual formation is expressed in Pastores Dabo Vobis and is a synthesis of the teachings in Optatam Totius: The seminarian is called “to live in intimate and unceasing union with God the Father through his Son Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.” This is the foundational call to discipleship and conversion of heart. Those who aspire to be sent on mission, as the Apostles were, must first acquire the listening and learning heart of disciples. Jesus invited these Apostles to come to him before he sent them out to others. St. Augustine alluded to this double identity and commitment as disciple and apostle when he said to his people, ‘With you I am a Christian, for you I am a bishop.’” (PPF6, 226).”
A variety of pastoral courses and field education placements enables the seminarians to acquire pastoral skills needed to serve the Church effectively today.
“The goal of pastoral formation is to form shepherds of God’s People; this goal requires men who are not self-centered, aloof, judgmental, or self-imposing but instead are characterized by a “serene openness” and capable of listening and collaboration. True shepherds must have a desire to understand the hearts of others and engage in attentive accompaniment.” (PPF6, 367)
The Field Education program seeks to develop pastoral and liturgical skills in each seminarian through closely supervised ministry in urban and rural parishes, schools, retirement homes, hospitals, and other facilities, and through theological reflection on these ministries. The intent is that pastoral concern thoroughly imbues the entire training of seminarians, so they will personally identify with the apostolic mission of the Catholic Church.
The manual labor program seeks to develop a generosity of response to whatever tasks need to be done for the common good. Priests are to be “cheerful givers” when presented with the opportunity to “wash the feet of others.” If a seminarian can be a servant in small tasks, he will give generously in future ministry.
Evaluation of Seminarians
The Rector together with the Formation Team evaluates each seminarian’s growth in his embrace of a chaste celibate life and in his performance in all components of the seminary program. The report consolidates evaluations by the Priestly Formation Advisor, members of the Human Formation Team, Field Education evaluations, members of the faculty, and the seminarian’s own yearly evaluation of his progress in achieving the goals he sets for himself each year. This confidential evaluation is reviewed with the seminarian and is available only to his sponsoring bishop, vocation director or religious superior.