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Formation Program for the Seminarians

84 The system of formation in the Vincentian Congregation is as follows: we have three years of Minor seminary one year of Novitiate, three years of Philosophy, one year of Regency and four years of Theology. 

Minor Seminary

Vincentian Minor seminary is an ecclesiastical institution owned by the Vincentian Congregation. The aim of this institution is to give an initiation into the spirit, life and works of the Vincentian Congregation, to those who aspire to become Priest members of the Congregation. Minor seminary provides the first step of formation to selected candidates who have shown signs of vocation to the Vincentian Congregation. This period of formation in general includes every aspect of Christian life and in particular human, spiritual, cultural and intellectual formation. Minor seminary formation is normally conceived for three years including the plus two studies or any other higher qualification they should undergo minimum two years of formation before the Novitiate.

Minor Seminary formation is normally of three years including the Plus Two studies.  In the case of those students who come after Plus Two or any other higher qualification they should undergo minimum two years of formation before the Novitiate.
At present our Minor Seminary formation is given in two places.  In the first year their formation is at the Vincentian House, Nedumkunnam. This is a Period of initiation into the Seminary and Vincentian way of life.  Now there are 30 Seminarians.  The next two years the formation will be at the Vincentian Minor Seminary Pala.  This is the time for their Plus Two studies and spiritual formation.  Those students who come after Plus Two also go to Nedumkunnam for their first year formation and they have a separate formation at Pala in the second year.  They are called Pre – Novices.  There are altogether 51 Seminarians studying there. 

Admission

The candidate is admitted to the minor seminary by the Rector and with the approbation of the Provincial Superior in consultation with the Vocation Director, after a through investigation by means of questionnaires and personal interviews.

Requirements for Admission

1. Right intention of dedicating oneself for the service of God and men, in the Church, through the Vincentian way of life.
2. Habitual disposition to obedience.
3. Ardent love for chaste and dedicated life
4. Good Character endowed with the natural virtues such as honesty, sincerity, courtesy, spirit of service and ability for teamwork etc.
5. Sound health of body and mind.
6. Habit of hardworking
7. Desire for prayer life.

Qualification

S.S.L.C and above

Certificates

1. Baptism and Confirmation
2. The Character and conduct from the Parish priest as well as from the head of the institution where the candidate had his studies.
3. Medical Certificate.

Administration

The seminary is governed by Rector and Staff members, according to the norms of the Statutes and Practical Norms of the Vincentian Congregation, the directions of the Superior General and the Provincial Superior.

Spiritual Formation

a. The Seminarians should realize that twofold is their vocation: Priestly as well as religious. Call to Priesthood and religious state is a call to holiness. Hence the principal task in the Seminary is to develop and authentic spiritual life, i.e a life of personal union with God. This personal union with God is cherished by the seminarian through the different exercises of piety;
b. Divine Liturgy: is the outstanding means to express in our lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the Church. A conscious participation in it will bring to us an awareness of Christ’s presence and action in us and in the community, and their by we will be led to know and love the father and our fellow-men. Therefore the Seminarians will actively participate in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, everyday. They shall earnestly try to receive Holy Communion worthily everyday.
c. Mental Prayer: is a means for better awareness regarding our vocation and its obligations. Through it we encounter God in a more personal way and we perceive and recognize the actions of the Holy Spirit in us and thus we are enabled to make a responsible and generous response to our calling. Hence, seminarians will daily spend half an hour for mental prayer excluding the morning prayers.
d. Spiritual reading: The reading of the Holy Scripture is to be complimented by reading other spiritual books such as Imitation of Christ, Life of St Vincent De Paul etc. Everyday the Seminarians will spend a quarter of an hour for spiritual reading.
e. Examination of Conscience: We should surely be aware of what we are doing and what we are accomplishing, with regard to our ideals and obligations. The best way for it is the Examination of Conscience which if sincerely done will enable us to know ourselves better and better. This will make us conscious of our deficiencies and pitfalls, which we will earnestly try to rectify. The examination of Conscience covers all our thoughts, words and actions of the day and is an evaluation of them in relation to our calling and life. The Seminarians will make the examination of Conscience twice a day, at noon and at night. It includes the general as well as the particular examinations of Conscience.
f. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary: Filial devotion to the Bl. Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ the eternal Priest, should be cherished by every Seminarian. As Mary was so intimately united with Christ and His Paschal Mysteries, She is our model in our union with Our Lord and in our participation in His redemptive work. Blessed Virgin Mary shall be honoured by the daily recital of the Rosary and by other pious customs.
g. Devotion to the Scared Passion of Our Lord: Should be a favorite devotion of a Priest and a religious, who is to take part in the Salvific Mission of Christ. Hence the Seminarians shall practice this devotion by making the way of the cross at least every Friday, in common. They may make it as often as they can.
h. Devotion to St Vincent de Paul: The prayer should be recited daily. The Seminarians should learn on the spirit, life and Apostolic works of the Saint.

Spiritual Direction

Spiritual direction is an indispensable means for spiritual maturity and is an extremely important element of a Priest’s education. Spiritual formation is the core, which unifies and gives life to his being as a Priest and his acting as Priest. The Seminarians should recognize the need for spiritual guidance and shall seek direction at regular intervals from the directions. Direction becomes effective only when the seminarian is open, sincere and co-operative. He should open himself before the director, sincerely share his problems with the director and co-operatively practice the advice given to him.

Sacrament of Penance

We are to be strengthened in our weakness and purified from every strain of sin, in order that we may make progress in virtues. Growth in holiness is a gradual process. It needs timely revision and correction. This is done effectively in the Sacrament of Penance.The seminarians therefore shall make their confession as often as they think it is needed, but are exhorted to make use of this salutary means once in two weeks. 

Reading of the Holy Scripture

Our union with God is fostered also through the devote reading of the Holy Scripture where in we meet our Heavenly Father and hear His voice.The seminarians shall read a passage from the bible daily in a devote and prayerfully manner

Intellectual Formation

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Studies: The study in the Minor seminary is primarily intended as a preparation for the studies in the major seminary, where the candidate is trained and formed into a Priest. The Seminarians should diligently devote the study time for study alone. They have to prepare the daily lessons earnestly and study daily the lessons taught that day.
 
On working days the study time is devoted exclusively to class subjects. On holidays extra reading is allowed except during the night study time.
 
If anyone wished to study after the bedtime special permission to that effect should be obtained from Fr. Rector.The Seminarians shall try to develop the reading habit and shall make use of the library as much as they can. They shall cultivate the habit of taking short notes on what they read. They should take active part in the extra curricular activities, which are meant for developing their personality and talents. The art of writing essays and public speaking can be acquired by participating in the activities of literary association.Since English language is important for studies, the public ministry and social relations, the seminarians are bound to perfect their knowledge of it by constant use of the language. Hence, seminarians should speak English always.

Entrance Examination

An Entrance test in English language is conducted for the admission to the major seminary before the seminarians enter the novitiate, probably in January. 

Discipline

Punctuality: is a kind of asceticism as well as courtesy which each member of the community owes to others. Hence the seminarians should be punctual in attending all the community exercises, such as gatherings, games, meals, manual work, recreation etc. If one happens to be absent from such exercises he should report the same to the rector at the earliest. All should faithfully follow the general time-table of the house.
Silence: is necessary for the development of the spirit of prayer and recollection, for work and study. It is often an act of charity too. Therefore outside the time of recreation silence is to be observed, the Chapel, sacristy, dormitory, lavatory and study hall are places of silence.

Correspondence

One should be moderate in writing letters. Postal correspondence is subject to the supervision of the rector. If some letters or money orders happened to be received directly, it shall be duly intimated to the rector.
Use of telephone is allowed only with the permission of rector.

Going out of the Seminary

Seminarians should leave the seminary compound only with permission. On return one shall meet the rector conveniently to give report of it.

Visitors

Visitors are allowed only on holidays generally. To go to meet them rector’s permission is required. They shall not be taken to our quarters without the sanction of the rector.

Vacation

During the scholastic year the seminarians will not be allowed to go home except during the vacation days. But they may be allowed to visit their close relatives in serious illness and also for their funeral if they happen to die.
The seminarians shall be sent home thrice a year, i.e. during Onam, Christmas and mid summer vacation. They shall spend the vacation days usefully. During the vacation days they shall be faithful to their spiritual practices, especially Holy mass, Examination of Conscience, spiritual reading, rosary etc. They shall be ready to render any service to the Parish Priest.

Health, Cleanliness, Etiquette

91 “A sound mind in a sound body”. Therefore the seminarians shall take good care of their health, but shall avoid undue anxiety. If some one happens to be sick, he will report the matter to the infirmarian, who will give him necessary medicines, if it is only a minor ailment such as headache etc. If the illness is serious he or the infirmarian will report the matter to the rector, who will make the necessary arrangements. 
If anybody wants to take rest and thus to be absent from community exercises or classes, he has to get the permission from the rector.
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Manual Work

Manual work, games and out-door walks are conducive to health. All are expected to engage themselves in those activities according to the timetable and the direction of the rector.

Dress

90 In the dressing habits seminarians should be moderate and decent.

Promotion

The following reasons could make a candidate unfit for promotion;
1. Repeated absence from liturgical services, especially from the Holy mass, Breviary and other community activities.
2. Repeated absence from class without permission especially when one is already warned.
3. Malpractices in examinations and other serious dishonesty.
4. Serious violations of charity, constant negative attitude towards superiors and to the rules and regulations of the seminary.
5. Constant and repeated violations of silence in places and times prescribed for it.
6. Lack of proper community spirit.
7. Undue attachments, unbecoming behaviors and unnecessary correspondence.
8. Absence from the seminary without necessary permission.
9. Going to any public amusement outside without proper permission.

Virtue of Poverty

The seminarians should bear witness to the poverty of Christ in the things they buy for themselves, in the care they take of the community property, in moderation and detachment, in matters of food and things they use.
 
Seminarians shall entrust their money to Fr. Rector who will keep an account of such money. They should get the permission of the rector to buy anything.
 
They also should report to him about the things they bring from home and receive as gifts. He may not allow them to use things, which are unbecoming to a life of poverty.
 
Seminarians shall take good care of the things belonging to the community. They shall not waste anything. Borrowing or lending of money or of things of some value needs special permission from rector.

Virtue of Obedience

Obedience by which one surrenders one’s will to God should be very dear to every seminarian. Christ who was obedient into death is his model. Without murmur everyone shall obey the orders of the Superiors promptly and with gladness. The time-table and the disciplinary rules of the Seminary should be faithfully and punctually observed by all. The different tasks that may be entrusted to the seminarians shall be executed with some kind of initiation, with full earnestness and responsibility. 

Virtue of Chastity

Fidelity in the reception of Sacraments, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, prudent control of the internal and external senses, acts of mortification and penance and proper spiritual direction are the proven means to safeguard chastity. The Seminarians in their dealing with girls shall be very prudent. Due respect shall be shown to them. Undue familiarity is to be avoided. Ordinarily the Seminarians shall avoid theatres, even during holidays. 

Community Life

The seminarians should realize that the call to Vincentian way of life is necessarily a call to life in common. This community life will foster the spirit of co-responsibility and teamwork.
Aptitude to live in a community is highly essential for a Vincentian, therefore,
1. They should foster fraternal love, esteem for others, and ready to help each other, sacrifice personal interests for the common good.
2. They shall practice the virtues of honesty, sincerity, kindness and other social virtues which will render one a happy member in the community.
3. Due respect and love and obedience should be shown to the superiors.
4. Habits of criticism, murmurings etc are to be carefully avoided.
5. They should study and observe the rules of etiquette and good manners. Their deport and behavior should be dignified and gentlemanly.
6. All should gladly and earnestly take part in all the community exercises, spiritual and material.  This union in prayer and work is part and parcel of living together. This will embellish our family spirit and oneness in Christ.

Time for Personal Prayer

1. Besides the community visits to the Blessed Sacrament, the seminarians shall make as many visits as possible during the day.
2. The Seminarians shall make private Visits to the Blessed Sacrament after bath in the evening, during intervals of studies, classes, after breakfast, lunch and supper etc.
3. They shall pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament before going out and while returning to the Seminary.
4. On holidays the Seminarians shall take more time for personal prayers.

Sssmile Fellowship

Sssmile fellowship is an effective means for the Vincentian way of social Ministry. Therefore, Seminarians should involve in Sssmile fellowship programs and activities.

Community Prayers

Monday – Rosary with Litany
Tuesday – Rosary with Litany
Wednesday – Class wise Rosary Group wise Rosary
Thursday – Adoration with Blessed Sacrament exposed
Friday – Way of the Cross
Saturday – Rosary with Litany
Sunday – Personal Rosary

Curriculum

1. Introduction to Bible
2. Spirituality and Religion
3. Malayalam/ Syriac/ Latin and Other Languages like Tamil, Kannada
4. English
a. Spoken English
a. Transcription
b. Reading Practice
c. Grammar and Composition
d. Texts-include poems, Stories, Essays.
5. History:  Church History and History of the Vincentian Congregation 
6. Vincentian Spirituality
Pre-novitiate:    A brief history of St. Vincent de Paul
Plus one: A detailed history of St. Vincent De Paul and a short history of the Vincentian Congregation.
     Plus two: A Detailed history of the St. Vincent de Paul and detailed history of the    Vincentian Congregation.
7. Liturgy: Introduction to Liturgy
8. All the subjects and textbooks prescribed by State Council of Educational Research & Training (SCERT) for Plus one and Plus two studies.

Novitiate

Novitiate is a major and essential stage in the formation of a Vincentian.  It is of one full year of duration.  It is a time of initiation into the paschal mystery of Christ through detachment from self, especially in the practice of evangelical counsels and the five characteristic virtues proposed by our heavenly patron St. Vincent.  One should also practice evangelical asceticism   and courageous acceptance of the mystery of the cross.  It is indeed a time for prolonged prayer, of solitude and of silence.
 
Objectives:  This stage of formation envisages the following:
1. To deepen the candidates’ love for Jesus, the evangeliser of the poor by personalizing his values and attitudes reflected in the Gospels.
2. To discern the genuineness of their vocation and help them to commit their lives totally to the service of the God and his people.
3. To Grow into healthy and mature human beings devoid of all inhibitions and complexes.
4. To inculcate a strong sense of personal responsibility in the carrying out of different tasks of daily life.
5. To develop an authentic interior life through a deep experience of prayer.
6. To acquire sufficient knowledge of the Vincentian Spirituality and way of life.
7. To train the Novices to contemplate the mystery of salvation and to read and meditate on Sacred Scripture especially the NT and Psalms.
8. To acquire the sense of the value of work especially manual work.
9. To help the candidates to handle emotions in a healthy manner, to understand his own affectivity and sexuality.
10. To help the candidate to develop as an integral person so that he may answer the call of God with greater freedom and responsibility.
11. To foster in a very particular manner a life of charity in the community, respect for others, teamwork, service for others, mutual responsibility in community building are to be insisted.
12. To forgive and seek forgiveness from others, accept fraternal correction in a spirit of humility etc., are to be taught in the Novitiate.

First Profession

Worthy candidates are promoted to make their first profession.  Only those who can lead a mature and balanced religious life and undertake serious intellectual work in the future will be promoted. By Profession of the Evangelical Councils, one is incorporated into the Congregation and is enrolled into a particular Province.

Philosophy

The study programme is spread over three years (6 semesters).  Those who have not done the graduation should do the same privately along with their Philosophical studies.   
 
Until 1993 the Vincentian Congregation had no Philosophate of its own and the Major Seminarians were sent for their Philosophical studies in different major Seminaries in India.  In the General Chapter of 1988 it was decided that the Congregation should start a Philosophate of its own.  In 1993 the General administration executed the decision erecting temporarily a Philosophate attached to the Generalate at Edappally.  This institution was named as De Paul Institute of Religion and Philosophy, which was shifted to Bangalore in 1995.  This Institute is situated at Kumbalagodu near Kengeri in the Archdiocese of Bangalore, 22 kms away from the city of Bangalore.  Now there are altogether 15 Philosophers from our Province being trained there.
 
The specific aim of this Institute is to provide a Vincentian formation.  The course of Philosophy imparted in the Institute permits the candidates to acquire knowledge of God and a Christian vision of man and of the world.  This intellectual training allows them to achieve a sense of purpose in life, personal convictions and certain maturity to face problems of the modern world in a realistic manner.  The specific content of the Vincentian vocation unfolded in the novitiate is put to test and strengthened during this time.
 
The staff members of the Institute make a detailed evaluation of the candidates who have completed three years’ course of Philosophy and those who are found suitable for the Vincentian way of life are recommended for promotion to regency and further studies.

Regency

For consecrated life in the Vincentian Congregation, the scholastics shall undergo a period of Regency.  Regency is understood as a period of at least one year in duration devoted for practical training, in order that the seminarian may acquire greater maturity and they be enabled to make a definitive option for the priesthood and the Vincentian way of life.  Regency is usually done in one of the Vincentian houses.  Provincial Superior appoints the regent to that house through an appointment order.  It will help him to be conscious of his dignity as a member of the house and the other members treat him as their own confrere.  Regency is ordinarily done before the study of Theology.  

Vestition (Religious Habit) 

vestiton At the end of the Regency period, worthy candidates will be promoted and shall receive Religious Habit and go for the study of Theology.

Theology

89 A seminarian who has successfully completed the Regency period is sent by the Provincial for the Theological studies.  Christian Theology is a reflection that seeks to understand God, world and life in the light of faith.  Theology formation is a dynamic process by means of which individuals are converted to the word of God in the depths of their beings and the Seminarians learn to discover the signs of God in earthly realities.  It will enable persons to see God with the eyes of faith and to make His presence in some way perceptible through the witness of their charism.
For Theological studies the Major Seminarians go to different Seminaries.  The majority of them go to the St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Mangalapuzha as day-scholars staying at the Vincentian Vidyabhavan, Aluva and a few in St. Ephrem’s Theological College, Satna staying at the Vincentian Study House, Kothi.  In places where we do not have study houses the Seminarians stay together with other Seminarians as inmates.  At present our Seminarians are studying as inmates in Seminaries such as St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor, Kottayam; Kristu Jyoti College, Bangalore; Papal Seminary Pune; Morning Star College, Kolkota; St. Paul’s Seminary, Trichi; Sacred Heart Seminary, Poonamallee; Dharmaram College, Bangalore.  Regularly a few of the Seminarians are sent to other Seminaries so that after the ordination they would be able to continue their work in a particular State since they have already mastered the language of the place. 

Perpetual Profession & Sacred Orders

final profession During the Theology course, he is admitted to the sacred Orders.  In the First year he receives the Order of Karoya; and the Second year the Order of Sub-Deaconate and in the Third year the Major Order, the Deaconate.  At the end of First year Theology course, the student makes his Perpetual Profession.  At the end of Theological formation the Provincial Council with the consent of the Superior General allows the worthy candidates to receive the sacred Order of Priesthood.