Vincentian formation offers opportunities for development of the whole person: human, spiritual, intellectual, pastoral, and communal. It promotes readiness for mission, following the words of Jesus, as lived in the charism of our Founder, St. Vincent de Paul: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” (Lk. 4:18) We are a “community for mission”, formed to be Christ for others and to evangelize and serve the poor in the way of St. Vincent de Paul. Listed below are the various levels of formation available to a Vincentian seminarian.
College: Our seminarians in college attend classes with other college students, studying Philosophy for a Bachelor of Arts degree. Eastern Province college seminarians study at St. John’s University, Queens, New York., and live at the Miraculous Medal Residence, within walking distance of St. John’s. Western Province college seminarians study at DePaul University in Chicago, IL, and live at Perboyre Mission House.
Pre-Theology: A candidate at this level of formation is a college graduate who needs to study selected courses in Philosophy and Theology to qualify him for admission to theological studies. Its duration is usually a year, although it can be longer. This is required by the USCCB’s Program for Priestly Formation.
Novitiate: Also known as the “Internal Seminary”, this year of prayer, reflection, and discernment is a time for a seminarian to discover the depth of his vocation and make a first commitment to the Vincentians by the end of the year. It is a time of coming to know the Lord Jesus, the spirituality and charism of the Vincentian way of life, and experience service to the poor. The Internal Seminary is a joint project of collaboration between the Eastern and Western provinces, and is held in Philadelphia, PA.
Theologate: Theological studies involve an educational formation program of courses in scripture, systematic and moral theology, Church history, homiletics, and pastoral practice to prepare men for ordained ministry. Seminarians attend classes, seminars, and undertake supervised pastoral work in the academic year as well as during the summers to complement their academic studies. They attain the Masters in Divinity degree, a prerequisite for ordination. Eastern Province, theologians study at St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia, PA residing at nearby DeAndreis House. Western Province theologians study at Chicago Theological Union and live at nearby Perboyre Mission House.
Besides the levels of initial seminary formation, Vincentians commit themselves to:
Ongoing Formation: Vincentians realize that in serving as a priest or brother, one must make a commitment to spiritual growth and development in ministry. To this end, they engage in spiritual direction, annual retreats and workshops to strengthen their vocation to follow Jesus by evangelizing and serving the poor in the Vincentian way.