The Journey to the Priesthood
Young men interested in training for the priesthood for the diocese of Wagga Wagga should first make contact with the Vocations Director (Acting), Father R ick Micallef ([email protected]). After a process of discernment, the Vocation Director may advise the prospective candidate to make formal application to the Bishop of Wagga Wagga, who will then decide whether to accept the candidate into the seminary to begin the process of formation and further discernment that must precede the call to priesthood in the Catholic Church.
Students at Vianney College begin with a period of intense spiritual formation that lasts for at least one year. Guided by the formation staff of the seminary, the student concentrates especially on developing a firm knowledge and love of Jesus Christ, through the practice of prayer and Christian asceticism. The new seminarian is guided through an intense program of reading the sacred scriptures and a study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and is introduced to a basic understanding of the Church’s liturgy and spiritual tradition. This spiritual formation will continue throughout the years of training, each seminarian working with his own personal spiritual director, under the supervision of the seminary rector and the other members of the seminary staff. The seminary program of daily Mass, prayer in common, regular days of recollection and retreats is also designed to support and strengthen the spiritual life of each student.
Only when this spiritual foundation is laid will the seminarian proceed to the more formal academic studies, starting with a period of two years in which the study of Philosophy occupies a major focus. Students are also expected to deepen their study of the English language and move into the study of Latin during these early years. A start is also made on the formal study of Sacred Scripture and Church History during this period.
From the first days in the seminary students are introduced to a graded program of pastoral formation. Beginning with observing the different aspects of parish life and talking to people in the field, they move on, under supervision, to experience in teaching, visiting, spiritual care of the sick and of other groups requiring specialised care. At the end of the third year each student is placed for six months in a parish, where he experiences first hand the challenges of parish life. This first major period of pastoral placement is carefully monitored so that the student can develop the skills especially required for dealing with people in a variety of pastoral situations.
Pastoral training and experience continue when the student returns to the seminary at the beginning of his fourth year to commence a period of four years’ study of theology and related disciplines. By this time the student will have received the ministries of lector and acolyte and his commitment to the priesthood and to the diocese will be strengthened during this period by the rite of Candidacy. Normally, as his final year approaches he will apply to the bishop to be admitted to the order of deacon and it will be as a deacon that he spends his final period of training working in a parish under the supervision of a pastoral director, and preparing to fulfill his long awaited goal in the final call to priesthood.