Can seminarians take formation outside the seminary?
Dear Fr Anthony,
Can seminarians take formation outside the seminary? If yes, why? If no, why?
Please answer my question...
The normal path for seminarians is to live at the seminary at least during the school year, and during the summer recess it is often the practice for them to do some supervised priesthood-related activity even though they may not live at the seminary itself. This, however varies greatly form seminary to seminary and religious order to religious order.
There may be some exceptional circumstances that would allow for a particular seminarian to pursue his formation outside the seminary setting, but it would always be in conditions that would allow him to do the proper studies and to be supervised and directed in his formation for the priesthood. Spiritual direction would be an integral and very important element in this formation.
The reason most if not all seminarians live at the seminary is because no one is ready for the priesthood when he starts out. We all need formation. We need to be mentored, guided. We need to experience and overcome difficulties, we need to work through our doubts. We need to acquire many virtues and habits, such as the habit of prayer, and learn self-control And especially, the bishop either directly or through his representatives needs to get to know us so at to discern if we truly have a vocation, and to call us in the name of the Church if it seems we do. All this normally requires supervision and input from someone more experienced than ourselves, and that is what happens in the seminary.