The Formation Program can be understood as a set of practices (i.e., mature lifestyle, worshiping/praying, studying, and ministering) designed to foster the integrated growth of seminarians. Through the four dimensions of human, spiritual, intellectual, apostolic and pastoral formation, seminarians acquire the human, spiritual, pastoral and social skills and characteristics needed for effective service, leadership and life. This formation program is considered the foundation for a life of ongoing learning across a range of disciplines, to facilitate effective ministry in a diverse and interconnected world.
The program of human formation is designed to aid each seminarian in assuming personal responsibility for his development in all phases of life in the seminary and after. It guides and supports the seminarian in reaching maturity in personal standards, psychological development, and social interaction.
The program of the spiritual formation is twofold: first, to foster the personal prayer life and spiritual growth of seminarians; second, to foster an understanding and love for the liturgical life of the Church. Through active participation in this process of personal spiritual discernment, seminarians are helped to respond with growing understanding and commitment to the call that brought them to the seminary.
The program of intellectual formation is pursued in the academic programs that are specific to each level of formation (college, pre-theology, and theology). They address the needs of each seminarian to be a fully educated and well-rounded person.
The program of pastoral and apostolic formation helps seminarians see Christ in those to whom they will minister, and come to see Christ at work in themselves. Through this focus, seminarians will learn to demonstrate pastoral charity and a commitment to the Church’s teaching on justice, peace and the dignity of human life.
The general objectives and plan for Catholic seminaries, followed at the Josephinum, have been set forth by the Second Vatican Council in its Decree on the Training of Priests. The renewal in priestly formation called for by the council was given further support by the Basic Norms for Priestly Formation, published by the Holy See in 1970 and revised in 1985, and by The Program of Priestly Formation, first published in 1971 by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and revised in 1976, 1981, 1992 and 2005. Furthermore, specific norms for philosophical and theological education are given in the apostolic constitution Sapientia Christiana issued in 1979, and the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1992, which provides a comprehensive vision of priestly formation.
The Josephinum strives to uphold the highest standards of academic excellence, thereby equipping its students with the knowledge and pastoral skills they will need to serve effectively as priests in the contemporary world. As a community of faith, the Josephinum works to provide the environment and support a seminarian needs to grow in personal maturity and holiness, and to cultivate the habits of prayer and virtue that are essential to the life of the priest.
The Structure of the Josephinum's Programs
The Pontifical College Josephinum has two schools. The College of Liberal Arts has an undergraduate program which enables students to earn a Bachelor’s degree with areas of concentration in Philosophy or Humanities. The School of Theology offers graduate programs enabling students to earn a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree; a Master of Arts in Theology (M.A.) degree with a concentration in biblical studies, dogmatic theology, moral theology, or evangelization; and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology (STB) degree, which is offered in affiliation with the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, Italy.
There is also a Pre-Theology program which is designed for students who have already earned an undergraduate bachelor’s degree but need additional preparation in philosophy and theology in order to meet the demands of more advanced theological studies. The academic aspect of this program is administered by the College of Liberal Arts and the formation aspect by the School of Theology. Students in this program can earn a certificate of completion in philosophical studies which provides them with the philosophical and theological preparation required by the Program of Priestly Formation for advanced theological studies or a Bachelor of Philosophy degree which provides them with the necessary philosophical and theological background along with a basic understanding of Latin.