At Saint Meinrad, we understand pastoral formation as an ongoing process of preparing for ministry, practicing pastoral charity, and reflecting upon the ministry event. These three steps lead naturally from one to the next and guide the seminarian in a process of deepening his pastoral skills, conforming his heart and mind to that of the Good Shepherd, and integrating his ministry into the mission of the local church through obedience and collaboration.

Prepare: Formation Conferences

There are two Pastoral Formation conferences for each class every semester. We invite members of the formation staff, or experienced local clergy and lay ministers, to instruct the seminarians on a pastoral topic or skill that is relevant to their supervised ministry. The seminarians engage the speakers in dialogue about their experience, and they gain insight into how they might better minister in similar circumstances.

 The following topics are addressed in the Discipleship Stage:

   I Discipleship: Understanding the Different Aspects of Ordained Leadership.

  • The Permanent Diaconate
  • Dimensions of Consecrated Life
  • Leadership: Forming the Faith Community
  • Universal Call to Holiness and Leadership

   II Discipleship: Introduction to Youth and Young Adult Ministry

  • Youth And Young Adult Ministry
  • Campus Ministry: Evangelization and Levels of Discipleship
  • Catechesis for Persons with Special Needs
  • Ministry and Trust

The following topics are addressed in the Configuration Stage:

  I Configuration: Ecumenical ministry

  • The Church: Ecumenism and Inter-religious Dialogue
  • Judaism (Tour of a synagogue and discussion with Rabbi)
  • Prison Ministry
  • Brothers and Sisters to Me (Military Chaplaincy)

   II Configuration: Clinical and parish ministry

  • Hospice Care, Aging and Dementia
  • Pastoral Care: Referrals and Closure
  • Models in Pastoral Ministry
  • Conflicts in Leadership

   III Configuration: Parish ministry

  • Marriage Preparation
  • Mission Advancement: Stewardship and Development
  • Working with Parish Staff

Although each seminary course is relevant to pastoral formation, the courses below bear most directly on pastoral theology and practice, preaching and liturgical ministries:

   I Configuration

  • 44:300 Evangelization and Catechesis (2 credit hours)
  • 40:511 History and Culture of the Church in the Americas (2 credit hours)

   II Configuration

  • 42:535 Foundations in Homiletics (3 credit hours)
  • 43:525 Pastoral Care and Counseling (3 credit hours)
  • 10:500 Ecclesiology and Ecumenism (3 credit hours)
  • January Interterm at the Mexican American Catholic College

   III Configuration

  • 42:540 Advanced Homiletics (3 credit hours)
  • 54:540 Advanced Homiletics Practicum (1 credit hour) 
  • 54:550 Practicum in Homiletics/Liturgics I (1 credit hour)
  • 15:545 Catholic Social Ethics (3 credit hours)

   IV Configuration

  • 15:551 Sexual and Medical Ethics (3 credit hours)
  • 43:550 Ministry to Families (3 credit hours)
  • 12:555 Sacrament of Reconciliation (3 credit hours)
  • 54:555 Practicum in Homiletics/Liturgics II (1 credit hour)

Practice: Supervised Ministry

Supervised ministry is a practical learning experience, guided by an experienced supervisor. At the supervised ministry sites, seminarians learn by observing, practicing, and reflecting on their ministry with their supervisor and peers. Seminarians spend three to six hours at their ministry site, for 12 Wednesdays each semester.

During the Discipleship Stage, seminarians participate in the following sequence of supervised ministry placements:

   I Discipleship: Working with and for the Poor

  • Ministering in Catholic Charities and Saint Vincent de Paul Society (cf. PPF, 370k, 394)

   II Discipleship: Catholic Social Justice and Inter-Religious Dialogue

  • Ministering in social outreach and non-profit organizations (cf. PPF, 394)
  • Interacting with a diversity of cultures and actively engaging in the various aspects of Catholic social justice

During the Configuration Stage, seminarians participate in the following sequence of supervised ministry placements:

   I Configuration: Ministry to Youth and Young Adults

  • Ministering at a college Newman Center, or in a high school campus ministry, or a parish youth and young adult ministry, with an experienced campus or youth minister
  • Developing an awareness and appreciation of the necessity of the education and formation of young people (PPF, 370f)

   II Configuration: Pastoral Care and Presence

  • Ministering in a hospital or hospice, with an experienced supervisor
  • Growing in the skills of pastoral presence in a health care environment
  • Clinical Pastoral Education

   III Configuration: Catechetical Ministry

  • Experiencing the breadth of parish ministries by participating in a variety of parish activities and staff meetings, under the mentorship of an experienced pastor
  • Ministering in a variety of parish ministries, with a focus on taking a leadership role as a catechist
  • Staying overnight at the parish for one weekend a month, serving in Sunday liturgies as an acolyte

   Summer Pastoral Internship

  • A 10-week intensive immersion in parish ministry, under the supervision of an experienced pastor

Reflect: Ministry Journals and Theological Reflection Groups

Seminarians compose brief reviews and reflections after each week of ministry. The primary purpose of theological reflection is “to interpret pastoral experience or activity in light of Sacred Scripture, Church teaching, personal faith, and pastoral practices. Reflection of this kind should become a lifelong habit in priestly ministry” (PPF, 391).

Each seminarian meets regularly in a small group for theological reflection. A member is assigned as the group facilitator, who leads the meetings and makes sure that conversation is fruitful and edifying. The purpose of the group is to grow in the virtue of spiritual understanding, to discern more clearly our vocational identity as a minister of apostolic works, and ultimately to live and minister in greater awareness of the movements of the Holy Spirit.

For more information, contact our pastoral formation staff:

Fr. Mateo Zamora, OSB
Director of Pastoral Formation
200 Hill Drive
St. Meinrad, IN 47577


Fr. Luke Waugh, OSB
Associate Director of Pastoral Formation
200 Hill Drive
St. Meinrad, IN 47577