Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Stoking the Fire Mini-Sabbatical

2016 Stoking the Fire banner

For priests at midlife, Saint Meinrad's Institute for Priests and Presbyterates has an integrated four-week sabbatical program to help you relax, recreate and recharge your spiritual life, update and expand your theological intellect, and renew your fire for pastoral ministry.  

Join fellow priests in this unique sabbatical experience on the Saint Meinrad campus from July 10 - August 5, 2017.
 

The Reality for Many Priests After Years of Ministry

The Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests (1994) notes: 

"[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 Midlife

The Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Diocesan Priests (USCCB, 2001) addresses four areas that impact a priest at midlife:

  1. 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. 

  2. 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 connection. 

  3. 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 ministry. 

  4. 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.

The Setting

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.

Sabbatical Design

"Stoking the Fire" Mini-Sabbatical is the Institute for Priests and Presbyterates' program of ongoing formation for priests at midlife, providing participants a time to rest and be renewed.

  • Our experiences of transitions in this stage of life and ministry

  • Short daily readings and prayer meditations on aspects of midlife 

  • Availability of counselor and spiritual director

  • Health professional consultation; diet and exercise choices

  • Reflections on scripture and pastoral leadership

  • Theological updates

  • Creation of a personal growth plan moving forward from the mini-sabbatical

  • Optional weekend outing

Amenities and Activities

  • Private room and bath facilities with full-size bed

  • Wi-Fi Internet access

  • Fully equipped weight room and cardio exercise facility

  • Library and video borrowing privileges

  • Satellite TV and DVD player 

  • Nearby sports and leisure activities 

  • Opportunities for communal prayer with monastic community 

  • Daily Mass, reflection and prayer with fellow priests

  • Counselors, confessors, spiritual directors

  • Options for nearby outings and dining

Dates and Deadlines

  • Sabbatical dates - July 10 - August 5, 2017

  • Application deadline - June 9, 2017

  • Financial aid application deadline - April 28, 2017

Costs

  • Program fees for 2017 coming soon.

  • A $250 application fee is due with the application. If the applicant is accepted, the $250 fee is non-refundable and is applied to the balance. The fee is fully refunded to any applicant not accepted into the program.

  • Recipients of the Patricia Kirchdorfer Scholarship will have their application fee fully refunded upon arrival for the sabbatical. The deposit will be forfeited if the Patricia Kirchdorfer scholarship recipient cancels within 30 days of the sabbatical's starting date.

  • Limited need-based financial aid is available.

  • A blood panel review with a health professional is offered within the sabbatical. The blood draw can be performed at Saint Meinrad's Health Services.

  • Optional round-trip airport shuttle to and from the Louisville, KY, airport (SDF) is available for $50.

  • Overnight accommodations and meals prior to July 10 and after August 5, if available, are in addition to the cost of the sabbatical. Call to check for availability and pricing.

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 assistance.

The Patricia Kirchdorfer Missionary Scholarship Fund

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 cost of the Stoking the Fire mini-sabbatical will be fully covered for the successful applicant to the Patricia Kirchdorfer Scholarship Fund. One Kirchdorfer scholarship will be awarded for 2017. Scholarship recipients are financially responsible for their travel costs to Saint Meinrad, airport transfers (if requested), any costs associated with blood draws, and any room and board fees prior to July 10 and/or after August 5 (if applicable).

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.

Application (due by June 9, 2017)

Application with financial aid request (due by April 28, 2017) 

Comments from previous Stoking the Fire sabbaticants:

  • 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.

  • 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 good.

  • The presence and hospitality of the Benedictine community; the opportunities to pray daily and celebrate Mass - these were tremendous.

  • 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.