Spiritual Formation Resources
The Spiritual Formation program works in co-ordination with the academic, human and pastoral components of the total formation program in preparing candidates for priestly service among the people of God. The program's specific purpose is to foster the human and spiritual maturity of the candidates as they grow in relationship with and imitation of the person of Jesus Christ. Students are called to see their lives as a daily, free response to the animating presence of the Spirit of the Risen Christ. This is a gradual and life-long journey of discernment, one that is encouraged and promoted in various ways during the eight years of training in the Seminary Formation program. It is the Holy Spirit that calls, forms, and transforms the seminarians in our care. Nevertheless, the formation faculty has the responsibility in a human way for the training and formation of the seminarians by providing the context, climate, structures, and opportunities for them to do their part in disposing themselves and responding to God's grace through all the activities, situations, events, and persons that they encounter each day
The following are the resources of St. Mbaaga’s Seminary Spiritual Formation program through the year:
Spiritual Direction: Spiritual direction offers the seminarians a primary relationship with a priest-director through which he can discern his priestly vocation and reflect upon his growing relationship with the Lord Jesus and his people, and assess the various ways he is responding to the Spirit in personal prayer, communal liturgy, common living, academic progress and life experience. The seminarian is expected to meet with his spiritual director, chosen in the sixth of the second year of formation, at least once a month.
Spiritual Initiation into Seminary Life: At the beginning of each year, the first-year students arrive at the seminary and are introduced to seminary living by means of a program entitled, "Spiritual Initiation into Seminary Life." The Director of Spiritual Formation and the Seminary Innitiation Team lead these important introductory days. During this time, the new students have the opportunity to meet and get to know one another and the members of the lecturers. The program itself is centred on a series of presentations and discussions based upon introductory themes of the spiritual life. These include the meaning of call and vocation, the person of Jesus Christ and the Paschal Mystery, Eucharistic spirituality, basic forms and methods of prayer, praying with scripture (Lectio Divina), the Particular Examen, discernment and spiritual direction. By way of further presentations the men are introduced to the liturgical ministries of lector, server and leader of prayer, as well as to the structure and meaning of the Liturgy of the Hours. The various gatherings are scheduled through the morning hours of each week day throughout the entire first year, while they then join the entire community in the Seminary Chapel for the daily celebration of the Eucharist.
The overall purpose during these days is to initiate men into the life of the seminary by exposing them to the basic practices and principles of the spiritual life, to help them become acclimatized to a new way of life, to encourage them to relate to their fellow students in a spirit of faith and charity, and to help them become familiar with the seminary environment, policies, and daily spiritual program. Thus, after that full year, they are then ready to take part and even to lead the entire community in prayer at a communal level.
Thursday Spiritual Talk: During the semester, on every Thursday morning, the students’ community gathers for a weekly Spiritual Direction by the General Spiritual Director. He addressed a wide range of Spiritual issues and corrects and recommends the community regarding the different areas in liturgy and spirituality of the Seminary.
Days of Recollection and Retreat: During the seminary year, Monthly Recollection Fridays are scheduled, one in the first and second semester. All are led by a priest-director who guides the community in prayer and reflection through conferences and meditation.
During the last week of February, the seminary conducts its annual retreat. A retreat director is engaged to lead the seminarians in a guided retreat at the seminary (total silence, one or two conference a day, and daily interview with their spiritual director). This Annual retreat is meant to be five full days in length and is conducted in meditative silence
The Daily Spiritual Program: The daily spiritual program expected of all seminarians consists of the following: prayerful presence at the Liturgy of the Hours; a minimum of 30 minutes of private prayer based on the Scriptures of the daily Eucharist (Lectio Divina); devout presence at the daily Eucharist; and the Examination of Counscience. Beyond these daily essentials, personal devotions and the reading of spiritual books and articles is fostered privately in the life of the seminarians. Frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is encouraged and regular opportunities are provided to the community.
Devotions: The following devotions are part of the seminary life and calendar, though attendance is optional. Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament takes place on Saturday Evenings throughout the Semester. The Way of the Cross is conducted every friday during Lent. The Rosary is prayed each Monday and Friday evening.
Although this section describes the many aspects of the Priestly Spiritual Formation program at St. Mbaaga's Seminary under a variety of headings, it would be incomplete if the overall goal of integration were not emphasized. Although a seminarian may be engaged daily in a variety of spiritual, academic and communal activities, with many different people, these experiences must be seen in their interrelationships—an integrated whole animated by the Holy Spirit and by the faith response of the individual seminarian.