If you're between parish assignments, this may be the perfect
time to refresh your spirit and refocus your priorities. Consider
taking just four weeks to relax and recharge your spiritual
The Stoking the Fire mini-sabbatical offers a quiet place and a
focused program to prepare you for the next challenges of ministry.
Join fellow priests in this unique sabbatical experience on the
Saint Meinrad campus from July 6 - August 1, 2015.
You'll enjoy a balanced mix of activities, recreation,
reflection and relaxation, with programs devoted to your physical
as well as spiritual health.
The Reality for Many Priests After Years of Ministry
The Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests
(1994) notes the following
"[Priests] need encouragement, genuine appreciation, a new
deepening in all aspects of formation with the purpose of
examining their actions, and a re-awakening of the motivation
underlying the sacred ministry.
They also need to reflect on: pastoral methods in light of
essentials, the communion among priests of the presbyterate,
friendship with the Bishop, surmounting any sense of exhaustion,
frustration and solitude and, finally, rediscovering the font of
priestly spirituality" (no. 94).
Designed for Priests at Mid-Life or Later, or in
The Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of
Diocesan Priests (USCCB, 2001) addresses four areas that
impact a priest at mid-life or beyond:
- Physical: Body changes make it clear that
[priests] are no longer young. Such a realization can strike with
great force. It is a time when illness or disability can readily
become part of life's journey.
- Psychological: A sense of limitation and
mortality, if not denied but faced directly and honestly, will
inevitably lead to certain psychological processes. For example,
one grieves the loss of what could have been and even what was. One
re-evaluates personal commitments and investments and strives for
greater authenticity. Finally, disconnections triggered by the
aging process resurface concerns about intimacy and
- Ministerial and Pastoral: At midlife
priests stand in a distinct ministerial situation. They may come to
recognize what they have left undone and what may, for the rest of
their lives, be "undoable." In effect, as they come to terms with
the limits of their lives, they also do so with the limits of their
- Spiritual: Issues raised by the season of
midlife resonate with faith concerns: limitation and mortality with
the promise of eternal life, grief with detachment, authenticity
with surrender and commitment. Midlife for priests is also a season
of epiphany. If one has remained on the course of an intentional
spiritual journey, one stops and takes stock of what has been.
Inevitably, the workings of grace become manifest.
Located among the peaceful rolling hills of southern Indiana,
Saint Meinrad Archabbey is a community of Benedictine monks that
has remained faithful to its commitment to daily Mass and prayer
since its founding in 1854. The seminary has been educating men for
priesthood nearly as long. View a slideshow of our facilities.
"Stoking the Fire" begins with an introspective look at
the sabbaticants' personality makeup and continues throughout
the four weeks in an intentional, integrated format:
- (Re)discovery of preferences for thinking and acting
(Myers-Briggs Type Index)
- Intensive journaling to retrace struggles, blessings and
motivations throughout life and ministry
- Availability of counselors and spiritual directors
- Health screening and meeting with health professional to review
results. Food and exercise choices discussed.
- Priestly leadership
- The priest within the context of his presbyterate or religious
- Creation of a personal growth plan moving forward from the
- Facilitated conversations on the life and ministry of
- Weekend outings to nearby destinations of historical note
- Closing liturgy and celebration tangibly mark the transition
back into ministry
Amenities and Activities
- Private room and bath facilities
- Wi-Fi Internet access
- Workout facilities
- Library and video borrowing privileges
- Satellite TV and DVD player
- Nearby sports and leisure activities
- Opportunities for communal prayer with monastic
- Daily Mass, reflection and prayer with fellow
- Counselors, confessors, spiritual
- Local outings and
Schedule: July 6 - August 1, 2015
Week 1: July 6-11, 2015 - Understanding Self and Each
- Forming a prayerful community among participants transcending
culture and personality
- (Re)discovering personality, listening to each other, tracing
- Dialoguing with God through Scripture in theological
Week 2: July 12-18, 2015 - Growing Toward a More
- Attending to one's physical health:
- Blood panel results and personal consultation
- Implications of our diet choices
- Managing stress and nurturing healthy relationships
- Creating achievable commitments to greater wellness in light of
one's personality type and life history
- Weekend outing: Historic French Lick and West Baden,
Week 3: July 19-25, 2015 - Deepening Priestly
- Reflecting on the call to simplicity and servant
- Promoting the dignity of the royal priesthood of the
- Enriching the understanding of a priest in relation to his
- Weekend outing: Historic New Harmony, Indiana
Week 4: July 26-August 1, 2015 - Transitioning Back into
- Formulating a personal mission statement and growth plan:
- in light of past and present priestly experience
- with new insights into dimension of priestly life
- in response to current and future ministry assignments
- $4,150 covers room, board and program fees.
- Financial aid is available.
- A blood draw is conducted by Saint Meinrad's Health Service
department. Fees associated with the blood panel tests will be
submitted to the sabbaticant's insurance. Sabbaticants are
responsible for any insurance co-payments associated with the blood
- Optional airport transfers ($50 round-trip) are not included in
the price of the sabbatical.
- Overnight accommodations and meals prior to July 6 and after
August 1, if available, are additional to the cost of the
sabbatical. Call to check for availability.
- $50 refundable application fee required with application. If
accepted into the sabbatical program, the fee will be applied to
the final balance.
- $250 nonrefundable deposit due upon acceptance into the
- For financial aid applicants awarded the Patricia
Kirchdorfer Missionary Scholarship, a $500 deposit is
due upon acceptance into the sabbatical program. The deposit will
be fully refunded at the beginning of the sabbatical upon the
The Institute for Priests and Presbyterates is able to offer
workshops and programs at a lower cost due to the generosity of
many benefactors. The actual cost per participant for the Stoking
the Fire mini-sabbatical is considerably higher than the amount
charged. Limited financial aid is available for those needing
The Patricia Kirchdorfer Missionary Scholarship
This scholarship fund is established by the Institute for Priests
and Presbyterates' founding director, Rev. J. Ronald Knott, in
honor of his friend Patricia Kirchdorfer. The fund is designated
primarily for U.S. priests working in foreign missions to more
easily afford attendance at the Institute's Stoking the Fire
mini-sabbatical. Secondarily, the scholarship fund is intended to
assist international priests serving in U.S. mission dioceses (as
defined by Catholic Extension).
The $4,150 cost of the Stoking the Fire mini-sabbatical will be
fully covered for the successful applicants to the Patricia
Kirchdorfer Scholarship Fund. Two Kirchdorfer scholarships will be
awarded for 2015. Scholarship recipients are financially
responsible for their travel costs to Saint Meinrad, airport
transfers (if requested), any health insurance co-payments
associated with the blood draws, and any room and board fees prior
to July 6 and/or after August 1 (if applicable).
A $500 refundable deposit is required to secure registration for
the applicants awarded the Patricia Kirchdorfer Missionary
Scholarship. This deposit will be fully refunded upon arrival at
Applicants who do not meet the Kirchdorfer Scholarship criteria or
who are not selected to receive the Kirchdorfer Scholarship are
still eligible to apply for other financial aid funds.
- Financial aid application deadline - May 1, 2015.
- Application deadline and final payment due - June 5, 2015.
- Sabbatical is limited to 10 participants.
Program and Financial Aid Application Form
Online submission form
Program Application Form only (No Financial Aid Required)
Online submission form
Complete and return the downloadable program and financial aid
application forms to:
Institute for Priests and
200 Hill Drive
St. Meinrad, IN 47577
Or fax completed form to: (812) 357-6283.
Comments from previous Stoking the Fire
- Saint Meinrad is more than an institution; it is a home for me.
Here I felt welcomed and cared for. The hospitality of Saint
Meinrad is praiseworthy. There is a joy and smile on the face of
every staff serving the institution.
- Four incredible weeks. One of the best experiences of my life.
Thanks to all. It has really changed me.
On human formation:
the essential need to remain physically healthy. There was
enough time for rest and relaxation. I also found the session on
simplicity helpful. I see the need for decluttering.
spending time with other sabbaticants - getting to know each other,
appreciating the different personalities, expanding my
On spiritual formation:
- I was able to reflect on my spiritual journey. The various
theological reflections were helpful. The personal growth plan
facilitator made me think and reflect more on my spiritual
growth. Meeting with the spiritual director was also very
- The depth of the sabbatical facilitator's spirituality and
leadership; the presence of a Benedictine monk in the group; the
opportunities to pray daily and celebrate Mass with the monks -
these were all tremendous.
On intellectual formation:
- It provided an opportunity to read more and learn. I also
learned by listening to others' stories and through the various
triggered my intellectual appetite. Remaining active is so
important in intellectual formation.
On pastoral formation:
- It opened
up more ways of ministering. It showed us the need to empower
others. It made me realize that I have to listen more.
understand more the need for effective pastors in communion with
their presbyterate and in relationships with people in listening
and adapting to situations.