Implementing the Propaedeutic Year at Saint John's Seminary - Saint John's Seminary
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Implementing the Propaedeutic Year at Saint John's Seminary

March 15, 2023

The Propaedeutic Stage “is a time of vocational discernment, undertaken within community life, and a ‘start’ to the following stages of initial formation.” Ratio, 60

Saint John’s Seminary is pleased to begin our new level of formation in August 2023. The Propaedeutic Stage is the first of four stages of Formation. “It is a time of vocational discernment, undertaken within community life, and a ‘start’ to the following stages of initial formation.” (Ratio, 60) The principal objective is to provide spiritual and human formation. “Its objective is to provide a solid basis for the spiritual life and to nurture a greater self-awareness for personal growth.” (Ratio, 59)

Gospel living comes from an authentic life lived in the mystery of Christ. The principal objective of this stage is “to provide a solid basis for the spiritual life and to nurture a greater self-awareness for personal growth” (Ratio, 56). This is a time of discernment before beginning the full-time studies at the Seminary. It is a time of preparation and a deepening of one’s baptismal call. Understanding oneself and one’s relationship with the Lord is the focus of this year. The primary end is to answer the call of discipleship. The four dimensions of formation—human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral—are to be integrated within each stage.

The Propaedeutic Year is a deep dive into the human and spiritual dimensions. Formation Conferences will consist of input with integration and reflection of the topic. Human Formation Conferences and Spiritual Formation Conferences will alternate weeks so that the men receive a balance of input from these key dimensions of formation.

There will be additional input given by others who specialize in the fields of Human Formation, Personal Growth, Discernment of Vocation and Spirituality as well as other complementary topics pertaining to this level of formation—integrating the four dimensions of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral—where appropriate.

Classes, Seminars and Conferences that will be offered: Introduction to the Old and New Testament, Introduction to Spiritual Direction, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Life of Christ, Living in Community, Discernment, Family of Origin, Conflict Resolution, Good Communication Practices, Devotions, Preferential Option for the Poor, Lectio Divina, Healthy Living and Self-Care, Time Management, Liturgy, Proper use of Technology and Social Media.

Two Faculty Priests (Fr. Michael MacInnis and Fr. Cristiano Barbosa) are the Propaedeutic Formators and will oversee the Program and all its details. Assisting the two formators will be two adjunct formators who will offer formational insight, input and expertise throughout the year. These adjunct formators are Dr. Vincent Lynch and Colonel Mike Manning. Each week one of them will present on Human, Spiritual, Psychological, and Developmental topics and will lead the processing and integrating the material—drawing on the seminarians’ reflections, questions and assimilation of key concepts. The Propaedeutic Year will begin in the same fashion as the proper Saint John’s Seminary Formation Program with an initial Orientation at the end of August followed by an Opening Retreat.

Fraternal Living: The men will live in a dedicated wing within the Seminary. At this initial stage of formation there is a great emphasis on fraternal bonds being fostered. They will share a fraternal life of prayer, study, ministry, and recreation. The men will have scheduled Masses, Holy Hour and communal liturgical prayer in a dedicated Chapel.

Ministry will be varied, drawing on opportunities of service to those on the margins: the poor, the immigrant, the elderly, the homeless in Boston and the surrounding communities. These opportunities of service will highlight our interconnectedness to our suffering brothers and sisters. The desire is to foster a heart like the Lord’s—a Good Shepherd’s heart.

There will be regular weekly group processing and debriefing of formational materials and ministry experiences; connecting the Gospel message of discipleship with their lived experiences. The year is meant to be one of discovery, discernment, and a deepening of one’s commitment to follow the Lord more authentically and freely.

The men will meet with their Spiritual Director every other week. The Director of Spiritual Formation, in dialogue with the Propaedeutic Formators, will assign an in-residence Spiritual Director.

Summer Integration Program

The Seminary Formators will run the Summer Integration Program at Saint Anselm’s in New Hampshire as the concluding formative aspect of the Propaedeutic Year. The Program will begin with an 8-day Retreat This will be an immersion in a retreat-like environment with Human and Spiritual Formation input and will synthesize the formation received thus far and will be preparatory for the next stage in formation. Seminary Formators in collaboration with the community of Saint Anselm’s will oversee the eight-week program.

Rev. Michael MacInnis

Saint John Seminary, B.A.

Weston Jesuit School of Theology, M.Div.

Weston Jesuit School of Theology, Th.M.

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