In its deepest identity, the seminary is called to be, in its own way, a continuation in the Church of the apostolic community gathered about Jesus, listening to his word, proceeding toward the Easter experience, and awaiting the gift of the Spirit for the mission. The seminary is, in itself, an original experience of the Church's life. In it, the bishop is present through the ministry of the rector, and those with whom he shares his responsibility, for the sake of the pastoral and apostolic growth of the students.
The various members of the seminary community, gathered by the Spirit into a single brotherhood, cooperate, each according to his own gift, in the growth of all in faith and charity, so that they may suitably prepare for the priesthood; and so prolong in the Church, and in history, the saving presence of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.
The Four Pillars of Priestly
In order that his ministry may be humanly as credible and acceptable as possible, the human personality of the seminarian is molded in such a way that it becomes a bridge, and not an obstacle, for others in their meeting with the Divine Person: Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of humanity.
Of special importance is the capacity to relate to others. It is truly fundamental for those who will eventually be responsible for a community to be "men of communion." This demands that our seminarians not be arrogant, or quarrelsome; but rather affable, hospitable, sincere in their words and heart, prudent and discreet, generous and ready to serve, capable of opening themselves to clear and brotherly relationships, and of encouraging the same in others; and quick to understand, forgive, and console.
Our future priests are therefore mentored in such a way as to cultivate in them these human qualities, not only for the sake of their personal growth and realization of self, but also in view to their future ministry. These qualities are needed for them to be balanced men, strong and free, and capable of bearing the weight of pastoral responsibilities. They also are educated to love the truth; to be loyal; to respect every person; to have a sense of justice; to be true to their word; to be genuinely compassionate; to be men of integrity; and especially, to be balanced in judgment and behavior.
Human formation, when it is open to the full truth regarding the whole person, leads to and finds its completion in spiritual formation. The human person is fundamentally a religious creature, open to the transcendent and to the absolute; he has a heart that is restless until it rests in the Lord. And so, the educational process of a spiritual life, seen as a relationship and communion with the God Who has revealed Himself, derives and develops from this fundamental and irrepressible religious need.
Candidates for the priesthood therefore participate in a comprehensive spiritual formation program, the goal of which is that students may learn to live in intimate and unceasing union with God the Father through his Son Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. Those who are to take on the likeness of Christ the High Priest by sacred ordination, are called upon to form the habit of drawing close to him as friends in every detail of their lives, and to live his paschal mystery in such a way that they will know how to initiate into it the people committed to their charge.
Our seminarians are taught to seek Christ in faithful meditation on the Word of God, and in active participation in the sacred mysteries of the Church, especially in the Eucharist, Reconciliation, and the Divine Office; to seek him in the bishop by whom they are sent, and in the people to whom they are sent, especially the poor, little children, the weak, sinners, and unbelievers. With the confidence of sons, they are taught to love and reverence the most blessed Virgin Mary, who was given as Mother to the beloved disciple by Jesus Christ himself as he was dying on the Cross.
Following the counsel of Saint Peter, all Christians are called upon to "always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls [them] to account for the hope that is in [them]" (cf. 1 Peter 3:15). However, as men ordained to proclaim the changeless Gospel of Jesus Christ, priests in particular bear great responsibility in doing so, and to present the Gospel as credible as possible to the legitimate demands of human reason, with consideration both to the fundamental and permanent question of the relationship between faith and reason, and to a number of requirements more closely related to the social and cultural situation of today, marked by various ideological prejudices and the violent rejection of the message of spiritual and religious values.
Therefore great care is given to the quality of intellectual formation that our men receive in preparing for priestly ministry, through which they receive a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Philosophy (for those without a bachelors degree) and a Maser of Divinity in Sacred Theology, prior to being ordained a priest. The commitment to study, which takes up no small part of the time of our men preparing for the priesthood, is not in fact an external and secondary dimension of their human, Christian, spiritual, and vocational growth. In reality, through study, especially the study of theology, they assent to the Word of God, grow in their spiritual lives, and prepares themselves to fulfill their pastoral ministry.
The whole formation of candidates for the priesthood aims at preparing them to enter into communion with the charity of Christ, the Good Shepherd. And so, their formation in its different aspects has a fundamentally pastoral character. The pastoral character of the priest makes him into a true shepherd of souls, after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the teacher, priest, and shepherd, par excellence.
All of a seminarian's human, spiritual, and intellectual formation is directed towards this specific pastoral end: that he, in his future ministry as priest, presents Christ to humanity, through the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments; through his ministry of the revealed Word of God, made his own through meditation and prayer, expressed through his speech and way of life; and through his sincere gift of self for the salvation of souls, winning over many by becoming the servant of all (cf. 1 Cor. 9:19), like Christ our Lord, who "did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (cf. Mk. 10:45; Jn. 13:12-17).
Ideal candidates should...
be between the ages of 18 and 40 years old at time of potentially entering seminary, have a healthy sense of self, have a desire to grow in their faith, be a practicing Catholic in good standing with the Church, speak fluent English, have a direct connection to the Diocese of Trenton; meaning you are currently or have lived, worked, or attended an academic institution within the four counties that comprise the Diocese of Trenton.
Should you have further questions on eligibility or need clarification on any of the topics listed, please contact our office.
Men entering with philosophy credits from a catholic university may potentially start in Pre-Theology 2 depending on the number of credits and nature of the philosophy courses completed