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Pastoral Formation Program

Mount seminarians learn to be shepherds imbued with the charity of Christ, filled with a missionary spirit, possessing pastoral competence and pastoral skills, especially through experiences in various ministries, including teaching, health care, and parish apostolates, developing a special loving commitment to the weak and vulnerable, the sick and dying, the poor and outcast, immigrants and the oppressed.

Purpose of Pastoral Formation

The pastoral formation program prepares seminarians to become shepherds imbued with the charity of Christ, filled with a missionary spirit, possessing pastoral competence and pastoral skills which are developed through formative, supervised educational ministry experiences that include social service ministry, teaching, ministry to the sick and needy, evangelization, promoting vocations, developing administrative skills, and the ordained ministry of the transitional deacon.

Program Components

The central component of the pastoral formation program involves active participation and engagement in a cycle of ministry, which includes supervised ministry under a specifically designed syllabus, theological reflection, regular evaluation, and an annual pastoral workshop for supervisors and seminarians. The Director of Pastoral Formation conducts an on‑site visit for an evaluation while also affording an opportunity to evaluate the supervisor’s experience of the program itself.

Pre-Theology Pastoral Formation

Pre-theologians are offered optional opportunities for introductory supervised experiences with the hungry, the homeless, the sick, and the marginalized, and other opportunities for service and evangelization (PPF, 254)

Catechetics and Teaching Placements

Supervised ministry in catechetics and teaching occurs primarily in Catholic schools and parish based religious education programs. A workshop on teaching methods is offered to assist in the ministry of catechesis and conveying the faith to various members of the ecclesial community (PPF, 239)

Health Care or Social Justice Placements

Supervised ministry in health care/social justice allows for ministerial opportunities in hospitals/private and military, nursing homes, geriatric / psychiatric centers, correctional facilities, homeless centers, ministry to persons with AIDS, campus ministry and immigration services. A workshop is provided yearly on health related issues (PPF, 239).


Supervised ministry in evangelization involves parish ministry, secondary education and counseling, diocesan tribunals and vocation offices, campus ministry, RCIA, correctional facilities, evangelization ministries, and other support experiences to assist a man to grow in any areas needed prior to ordination to the transitional diaconate. A workshop on pre‑nuptial marriage preparation is offered (PPF, 239).

Parish Placements

Transitional deacons are required to serve at approved parish placements on assigned weekends. The seminary cooperates with local dioceses in the supervision of deacon placement in order to provide each man an opportunity to integrate his ordained ministry with practical learning opportunities, all the while developing a sense of what it means to be a spiritual leader and evangelizer (PPF, 239).

The Seminarian Handbook contains a detailed section on the Pastoral Formation program and the elements of supervised ministry.

Download the Seminarian Handbook (.pdf)

Goals / Objectives

The aim of pastoral formation is the development of a true shepherd who teaches, sanctifies, and governs after the example of Jesus Christ. The seminarian gains pastoral experience by his Pastoral Field Education and summer assignments under the care of and evaluation by a supervisor. Pastoral Formation develops the heart of a shepherd in the seminarian as a man who:

1. Demonstrates pastoral competence


  1. Shows skill in dealing with various pastoral settings such as teaching, health care, evangelization, parish administration, and diaconate parish placements
  2. Demonstrates an ability to minister to those of various cultures, particularly Hispanic
  3. Manages his time well by being punctual and following through with assigned tasks

2. Shows pastoral leadership


  1. Demonstrates effective communication skills, including preaching and catechesis
  2. Shows fatherly care and dedication toward others by giving time and attention to them
  3. Takes initiative with groups and projects
  4. Accepts feedback and constructive criticism

3. Collaborates effectively


  1. Respects different ministries and apostolates within the Church
  2. Demonstrates respect for those of other beliefs and cultures
  3. Exhibits docility toward authority
  4. Works well with others in ministry, including women
  5. Shows fatherly kindness and affability toward others

4. Is a man of communion


  1. Fosters unity among the clergy and the lay faithful
  2. Manifests a balanced outlook and avoids ideologies, especially in liturgical matters
  3. Cultivates friendships with seminarians and priests, particularly in his own diocese

Pastoral Placements

Sequenced settings provide the arena for the acquisition of a pastoral personality and a set of pastoral competencies to be developed: catechetical ministry, ministry to the sick and needy, and evangelization. Placements for the transitional deacon continue this pastoral formation within a parish and rectory context. Special opportunities are offered for experiences in Hispanic Ministry. In each area seminarians are to show they can teach, collaborate, evangelize, administrate, and lead. They are to develop a sense of themselves as authorized ministers performing their service in the name of the Church. They are to develop the skills demanded of this service, and are to be appropriately aware and responsive to different social classes, races and cultures, age groups and genders, with a special loving concern for the poor. They are to share the mind of the Church regarding the ecumenical dimension of pastoral ministry. They are to be men who, in keeping with “Pastores Dabo Vobis,” possess a comprehensive pastoral character (PPF, 237; PDV, 44).

Upon full compliance with the pastoral formation program at Mount St. Mary's, all seminarians should demonstrate a competence in the following areas of pastoral ministry obtained through supervised pastoral experiences year by year, as follows:

Pre-Theology - Various optional placements

Seminarians shall have a sense of self as servants of the People of God and begin to see how pastoral ministry is integral to priestly formation. This year offers an opportunity for seminarians to integrate social teachings of the church into concrete acts of charity and corporal works of mercy while orienting the man to pastoral activity, basic skills development, and the beginning of theological reflection (PPF, 225).

First Theology – Catechetics/Teaching Ministry

Seminarians shall have a sense of self as part of the tradition of authorized teachers of the faith, a working knowledge of the role of religious education in the pastoral mission of the Church, a competence for catechesis on the elementary school level, and a basic knowledge of faith development and age appropriate lesson planning. These men will also learn the complexities experienced by teachers and therefore develop compassion for their particular mission in the Church. They will learn how, as future priests, to assist the mission of Catholic education through parochial schools and religious education programs.

Second Theology ‑ Health Care / Social Justice Ministry

Seminarians shall have a sense of self as extending the charity of Christ to the sick, elderly and those with special needs. They will develop personal interactive skills required for effective listening, an effective pastoral personality and ability to manifest genuine pastoral charity. Seminarians should develop pastoral compassion, while learning how they, as future priests, will assist those who minister in hospitals, prisons, nursing homes and institutions that provide special care for the sick and suffering.

Third Theology ‑ Evangelization Ministry

Seminarians shall have a sense of self as heralds of Christ, the personal skills required to relate to a diverse population, and an increasing capacity for pastoral leadership and collaborative ministry. In this year, seminarians may have an opportunity to learn how to promote vocations, work with professional institutions that serve other pastoral needs, and even have an opportunity to serve in a parish, prior to diaconate ordination, in order to cultivate personal qualities that they and their formation advisor determine would be helpful before they are called to ordination as transitional deacons (PPF, 239).

Deacon Placement - Parish Ministry

Deacons shall have a sense of self as servant leaders in the Church, developing their competence in the diaconia of the Word, of the liturgy, and of charity. They will learn parish administration skills, what it means to be part of a pastoral team and will assist in appropriate liturgical settings, and will develop an understanding of what it means to be a pastoral leader.

seminarians in a classroom with laptops

Pastors and Stewards Program

Newly ordained priests are asked to take on the management of parishes within three to five years after ordination. Pastors and Stewards is a program that provides seminarians, and lay parish professionals, with the tools they need effectively run operations that extend beyond their pastoral studies.

Learn About Pastors and Stewards

seminarian at mount 2000

Mount 2000

Mount-2000 is a weekend retreat for high school students coordinated by our current seminarians. Future priests are paired with a student group assigned for the entire weekend. This includes eating meals together, teaching students how to pray the bible and offering time for conversation. With almost 2000 high school students on campus this is an opportunity to practice pastoral formation.

Learn About Mount 2000

a seminarian as a sports chaplain for men's lacrosse

Sports Chaplaincy

Coordinated through the university's Office of Campus Ministry, seminarians may opt to take on the role as Mount sports chaplains to build, develop, and deepen the faith of the student athletes by meeting them “on the court,” building a relationship with each member of the team, and challenging athletes to grow in their faith.

Learn About Sports Chaplaincy