A Mission Statement
Called by the Archbishop of Edmonton who has associated with himself the other Bishops of Western Canada as its Board of Regents, SJS pursues its specific mission of training future priests.
SJS undertakes the task of forming future diocesan priests in the tradition of the Society of St. Sulpice:
- By fostering the discernment of personal vocation as a free and generous response to the call of God for presbyteral ministry in the Church and the world;
- By providing an educative community of directors and seminarians gathered in an Apostolic spirit around Our Lord Jesus Christ;
- By fostering the integration of all aspects of priestly formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral.
Formation at SJS encompasses all four areas of priestly formation: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. Intellectual formation is ensured in partnership with NTC, for whom the seminary faculty also serve as instructors. Both institutions remain distinct, interdependent and complementary.
In September of 1927, Edmonton Archbishop H.J. O’Leary inaugurated SJS in the old Oblate Scholasticate with 66 seminarians. New facilities were built in 1957 on St. Albert Trail, and served to house the seminary until recently. In 2010 the seminary and college moved into beautiful new buildings on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River in the heart of Edmonton.
The Priests of St. Sulpice, a society of diocesan priests whose specific mission is the service of the presbyteral ministry, accepted in 1990 the direction of the seminary, bringing with them their experience of 350 years in priestly formation.
The SJS formation aims at personalizing the whole process of the candidate’s formation. This means that it allows and fosters personal responsible assumption and integration of the seminarians’ own insights. We must never forget “that the candidate himself is a necessary and irreplaceable agent in his own formation; all formation, priestly formation included, is ultimately a self-formation” (Pastores Dabo Vobis 69).
Such integration can be fostered in four major ways or according to four major axes:
- The first and main one is the constant search, both at the personal and communal levels, of an ever deeper union with Jesus the Good Shepherd, Prophet and Priest.
- The second is that of the SJS community itself which constitutes a privileged milieu where the integration of the various dimensions of priestly life are actualized: the human, the intellectual, the spiritual, the pastoral, particularly through the modelling of the Formation Team members.
- Spiritual direction is meant to be the means and the milieu par excellence for fostering personal integration and unity.
- Finally the seminarian establishes at the beginning of the year a Personal Growth Plan which outlines the particular emphasis he intends to give to his spiritual and intellectual life, his community and pastoral involvement as well as his specific focus for his human and vocational growth.
In accordance with the Sulpician pedagogical tradition, the members of the Formation Team share the life of the seminarians. This integral seminary formation covers at least a five year period (following upon the necessary completion of philosophy requirements): a propaedeutic year, two years of formation and theology at the seminary, followed by a full year of pastoral internship in the candidate’s diocese, and a return to the seminary for the third year of formation and theology. The seminary, in conjunction with NTC, makes use of a 10 month year (Fall Semester, Winter Semester, and Intersession) for each of these five years of full-time preparation for ordained ministry.
In its partnership with the seminary, NTC pursues the intellectual formation in theology, philosophy and pastoral reflection. Further to the usual requirements of the M.Div. or B.Th. programs, the candidate for priestly ministry must fulfill the academic requirements for ordination established by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Preparation for Ministry
The pastoral formation of seminarians encompasses three different and complementary elements:
- The core of the pastoral formation is ensured through a complete year of pastoral internship. This year normally takes place after the completion of two full years of study in theology. During his internship, the seminarian is placed by his Bishop in a parish of his diocese. There he is initiated into many aspects of pastoral ministry and parish life under the supervision of the local pastor. Before entering into the experience and during the whole internship, he is prepared and accompanied by the Seminary Director of Internship. On site, the intern is also helped by a Lay Support Committee appointed by the local pastor. This internship year counts for 3 of the credits of the Field Education component of the M.Div. degree. However, these credits are not awarded until the completion of the second element.
- The second element of pastoral formation involves a seminar of theological reflection on his internship with the guidance of the Director of Field Education. This seminar is a one-semester course and counts for the other 3 credits to complete the Field Education requirements for the M.Div. degree. All 6 credits are awarded upon completion of this second element. Seminarians are strongly encouraged to take a CPE unit as part of their pastoral formation, and often undertake this course prior to or after the pastoral internship year.
- The third component of pastoral formation involves a pastoral placement that the seminarian is appointed to during his years of formation at the seminary. The seminarian is expected to be engaged in such ministry for three to four hours a week in a setting that offers him a variety of pastoral experiences: parish, hospital, prison, school, vocation awareness, inner city ministry, etc.
With the help of the Director of Pastoral Formation and the assistance of an on-site supervisor assigned to him during this experience, the seminarian is able to reflect upon his experiences and learn more about some practical aspects of pastoral ministry. During his summer holidays, July and August, the seminarian is under the responsibility of his Bishop. He may also be assigned to some specific pastoral ministry.
A more detailed exposition of the program of formation offered in SJS may be found in the seminary handbook.
St. Joseph Seminary website - www.stjoseph-seminary.com