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Propaedeutic Year

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Propaedeutic Year


Students embarking on their seminary journey begin their formation in the Propaedeutic Stage. This initial phase serves as the bedrock of their formational path, placing a significant focus on both human and spiritual growth. During this period, individuals reside in a supportive community dedicated to discernment and accompaniment, distinct from the main seminary environment, for a duration of one year.

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“Vocations aren’t the result of planning. But an encounter with God that changes your life. “

– Pope Francis –

Life On Campus

Seminarians will:

  • Live in Christian Community
  • Participate in a full time on-campus academic program
  • Receive Spiritual Direction
  • Join in communal prayer, formation, and recreational activities

Propaedeutic Year Formation

Human Formation
Propaedeutic seminarians are required to attend all human formation sessions as active participants.

Spiritual Formation
Propaedeutic seminarians are required to have a spiritual director, attend monthly days of recollection, attend propaedeutic spiritual formation sessions, and rector conferences.

Pastoral Formation
Propaedeutic seminarians are to attend their field education assignments which will be evaluated at the end of the assignment. Their theological reflection assignments are to be drawn from these assignments.

During summer and winter break, seminarians are to be engaged in pastoral assignments, preferably with each other so as to maintain a sense of community.

Intellectual Formation
According to the Program of Priestly Formation Sixth Edition:

A seminarian can earn college credit for some of his general studies during the propaedeutic stage. Such coursework should not exceed nine credit hours per semester…. Classes proper to the propaedeutic stage’s intellectual formation (e.g., biblical literacy, catechesis, prayer, and spirituality) must compose the bulk of the intellectual formation of this stage and can be taken for credit. Philosophical studies must not begin until the discipleship stage. (PPF6 129)

Propaedeutic Year Coursework

In accordance with the above norm, propaedeutic year seminarians may take the following course work. Only three courses for a total of nine credit hours, in general education are permitted each semester. In addition, seminarians also may take courses in non-general education a such as introduction to scripture, spirituality, and the Catechism. Courses in philosophy are not to be taken.

Year I Fall Semester
PAS 161 Catechism I – On campus
ENG 115 Writing and Composition – Online
SAS 101 Sacred Scripture – On campus
ENG 300 Great Christian Literature – Online
HIS 101 Western Civilization – On campus
SCM 101 Mathematics among the Liberal Arts

Year 1 Spring Semester
PAS 162 Catechism II – On campus
LLT 300 Introduction to Liturgy – On campus
CHH 300 Church History – On campus
HIS 102 Western Civilization II – On campus
ENG 221 Novels, Short Stories, Literary Research – Online
DTH 512 Spiritual Life in the Classics – On campus

At the Conclusion of Propaedeutic Year
“The propaedeutic stage should conclude with the seminarian’s making a firm resolution to dedicate himself to the work of priestly formation or, alternatively, ‘to follow a different path in life’ as a faithful lay Catholic. A decision to proceed to priestly formation must always be confirmed by the Church.” (PPF6, 122)

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Holy Apostles College and Seminary campus, 33 Prospect Hill Road, Cromwell, CT 06416

Propaedeutic Year Benchmarks

Human Benchmarks
“Self-knowledge and awareness are key themes in the area of human formation during the propaedeutic stage. Before he begins the discipleship stage, it is important that the seminarian, with the help of formators, be able to reflect upon his personal history (e.g., family of origin, use of technology, personal habits) and his needed areas of growth. Other aspects of the human dimension necessary for beginning the discipleship stage include relational skills (e.g., capacity for healthy and deep friendships, basic social skills and good manners, flexibility, adaptability, a basic capacity for empathy); self-discipline (e.g., capacity for hard work, awareness of the appropriate use of time, basic self-control); a trusting relationship with formators (e.g., openness to correction, awareness of the importance of transparency in formation, growing sense of accountability); and healthy habits of self-care (e.g., beginning an exercise regimen, good personal hygiene, beginning to address any health concerns or unhealthy habits).” (PPF6, 191)

Spiritual Benchmarks
“One of the primary objectives of the propaedeutic stage is to provide an introduction to the spiritual life and to develop a solid foundation in the seminarian’s life of prayer. Those elements in the spiritual dimension to be achieved prior to beginning the discipleship stage include growth in prayer and the spiritual life (e.g., elementary discipline in public and private prayer, interest in and attention to spiritual direction, understanding of the importance of silence, and a growing habit of silence), growth in an understanding of the celibate life (e.g., ability to articulate the Church’s understanding of the promise of celibacy and the spiritual motivation for celibacy, growth in the virtue of chastity, and growth in the habit of healthy solitude), growth in the understanding of the priestly vocation, the ability to articulate a relationship with Jesus Christ, and growth in reading and meditating on Sacred Scripture.” (PPF6, 235)

Intellectual Benchmarks
“Gaining an initial understanding of Christian doctrine and anthropology as well as an initial familiarity of the Bible in its various parts are benchmarks that should be reached prior to embarking on philosophical studies in the discipleship stage. Benchmarks related to intellectual formation in preparation for the study of philosophy and theology include basic habits of study, signs of intellectual curiosity, and love of learning. Finally, if necessary, the propaedeutic stage can help to make up for anything that is missing in a seminarian’s general education.” (PPF6, 271)

Pastoral Benchmarks
“Seminarians in the propaedeutic stage should develop ‘the dynamic of self-giving through experiences in the parish setting and charitable works.’ Hands-on experiences that include contact with the poor are appropriate at this stage. Benchmarks in the pastoral dimension include an awareness of the pastoral situation of the local community or ecclesiastical entity, as well as an awareness of the multicultural reality of the Church in the United States and the nature of the Universal Church. Priests serving in the United States, regardless of their cultural background, often serve in a multicultural setting. Working toward cultural competency, including language competency, to meet pastoral needs in his diocese should be part of the formation a seminarian receives during the propaedeutic stage, so as to lay a solid foundation for continued formation in cultural competency in later stages. Pastoral charity is at the heart of the Church and the priesthood; so demonstrating a genuine concern for others, a spirit of generosity, and a developing habit of self-donation are also necessary benchmarks to be achieved prior to the seminarian’s acceptance into the discipleship stage.” (PPF6, 373)

Where Do Propaedeutic seminarians live?

Propaedeutic seminarians are to live in the Holy Apostles’ House of Discernment, a building that is separate from the seminary residence. Propaedeutic seminarians, though, are to follow the seminarian handbook and not the handbook for men in discernment who are not in their propaedeutic stage.

What Is the Dress Code?

The dress code of HACS seminarians during their propaedeutic year consists of black pants with a white shirt and no tie.

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