A Life-Long Process
Formation is an ongoing and essential component for a priest to be a man of communion and affective shepherd for God's people. "The fact is that God continues to call and send forth, revealing his saving plan in the historical development of the priest’s life and the life of the Church and of society. It is in this perspective that the meaning of ongoing formation emerges. Permanent formation is necessary in order to discern and follow the constant call or will of God" (Pastores dabo vobis, no. 70). Hopefully, as a man moves through his graduate studies and years of formation, he properly perceives ordination not as an end but, rather, as a pivotal experience in his journey of personal formation.
The seminary, with all requirements in place and competent personnel who are ready to assist in priestly formation, must declaratively state its inability to prepare a priest for every possible demand placed upon him in ministry. The administration can only help each candidate to establish future habits of study, prayer, and formational involvement well beyond ordination. This includes the deepening of his human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral skills required throughout his entire life of active ministry.
So important is ongoing formation, the Church prescribes policies at the universal and local levels in a spirit of safeguarding this vital aspect of a priest’s growth. Some of these policies address the priest’s need for continuing education, retreat experiences, spiritual enrichment, pastoral skills enhancement, and a variety of opportunities that will benefit the entire Church community.
The Diocese of Cleveland provides these and other opportunities for each priest: