The Discipleship Stage focuses on assisting the seminarian in gaining facility with prayer, spiritual direction, and other aspects of the devotional life of the Church. “As source and summit of Christian life, the daily celebration of the Eucharist is the essential moment of the day” (PPF, 229). In keeping with this principle, daily celebration of the Mass and other Eucharistic devotions form the core of spiritual formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology.
As a complement to the celebration of the Eucharist, the seminarian is guided in the cultivation of an array of spiritual practices that are essential to the development of authentic discipleship. This includes the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours, both publicly and privately. A special focus is given to the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a means of achieving the goals of long-term and deep discipleship. The seminarian also engages regularly in spiritual direction with seasoned spiritual directors who understand the specific demands and challenges of priestly formation.
The Intensive Spiritual Formation Week, offered at the start of each year of formation, provides a comprehensive understanding of spiritual formation across the years, focusing on what is essential to each stage of development. During the Discipleship Stage, topics include:
Lection Divina and the Liturgy of the Hours
History of Christian Spirituality
Images of Priesthood
Lectio divina groups help seminarians to internalize what is learned in the classroom.
Two retreats provide additional opportunities for spiritual growth during the Discipleship Stage. In I Discipleship, seminarians are given a preached retreat on the Rite of Ordination, anticipating themes that help them to focus on their future seminary formation. This retreat is offered in Charleston, West Virginia. In II Discipleship, a retreat is offered during Holy Week in Seville, Spain. During the retreat, seminarians reflect upon the meaning of Christian discipleship through the lens of the traditional Holy Week practices of Seville.
“By the end of the discipleship stage, the seminarian is able to articulate his understanding an awareness of God’s call to him of a lifelong commitment” (PPF, 238).
During the Configuration Stage, the seminarian builds upon the spiritual foundations laid in the Discipleship Stage. The various components of spiritual formation are designed to cultivate “a well-established friendship between the seminarian and Jesus Christ, which is necessarily characteristic of the man by the end of this stage” (PPF, 238).
This begins each year with the Intensive Spiritual Formation Week. The following topics are covered during the Configuration Stage:
Theology and Priesthood
The Spirituality of Recovery
Advanced Patterns of Prayer
Diaconate: History, Spirituality and Theology
Spirituality of Icons
A Spirituality of Preaching for Parish Ministry
Further training in prayer and attention to the spiritual person are characteristics of this stage of formation. Programs, lectures, workshops as well as spiritual direction attend to these needs.
The retreat program for the Configuration Stage includes:
I Configuration: A directed retreat in the Ignatian tradition offered at the Dominican Sisters Retreat Center in Nashville, Tennessee
II Configuration: A pilgrimage retreat in Guatemala following in the footsteps of Blessed Stanley Rother
III Configuration: A pilgrimage retreat in the Holy Land, following in the footsteps of Jesus
IV Configuration: A retreat focused on preparation for deacon ordination prior to the fall semester at the Dominican Sisters Retreat Center in Nashville, Tennessee
A capstone pilgrimage in Rome after graduation in December