handshakeWhat a priest does is inextricably linked with who a priest is. He brings his humanity into his daily work — his personality, past experiences, desires, strengths, and weaknesses are all woven into his priestly ministry. It is important, therefore, that he be balanced, and well-adjusted so that his personality serves as a bridge, not a barrier, for others as they experience Christ through his witness.

Human formation is thus aimed at helping the seminarian become an integrated, moral, and stable man of God, able to relate to those he serves while striving himself to model the Christian life. This includes mastery of self, stewardship of body and possessions, chastity, dealing with past experiences, and overall a dedication to improving oneself and living the life of a disciple of Christ. With prayer, steadfast devotion, and guidance from others, the seminarian progresses through the stages of self-knowledge, self-acceptance, and self-gift, all the while becoming more and more conformed to the perfect humanity of Jesus.

A Catholic Gentleman

“A simple and demanding program for this human formation can be found in the words of the apostle Paul to the Philippians: ‘Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things’ (Phil. 4:8)” Program of Priestly Formation (no. 68) 

They are encouraged to have hobbies and live a well-rounded life. A priest must keep himself healthy in mind and body so that he can minister to the people of God.

“Human formation is preparation to freely give myself to Him.”
James Harding, Saint Meinrad
“My human formation is helping me to learn to feel as Christ.”
John Lijana, Saint Meinrad
“Celibacy is total self-gift to God and His people.”
Marc Bentley, Saint Meinrad


Celibacy is often one of the largest difficulties that a young man has in accepting that he might have a call from God as a priest. It is often difficult for men to understand how celibacy is not 'giving something up', but rather a gift of grace. In seminary, a great deal of the human formation deals with helping him do just that. Through prayer, spiritual direction, counseling, and fraternal support the seminarian learns how to accept, and control, his sexuality. In almost every case he eventually comes to see celibacy for the gift that it truly is. Read more about celibacy.

Spiritual Formation

Growing closer to Christ through study, prayer, and the Sacraments.

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Intellectual Formation

Studying the faith and developing the mind to more effectively share the Gospel.

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Pastoral Formation

Serving the Lord by serving others, and learning how to more effectively be Christ for the world.

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