The Aim of Human Formation
The focus of human formation is a lifelong commitment to personal growth. This is a process of change towards becoming the person, in the light of faith, that God created you to be. This requires that “Human Formation, being the foundation of all priestly formation, promotes the integral growth of the person and allows the integration of all its dimensions” (The Gift of the Priestly Vocation, 94), human, spiritual, pastoral and intellectual. It is what Pope Francis speaks of in our call to holiness when ‘you will become what the Father had in mind when he created you, and you will be faithful to your deepest self.’ (Gaudete et Exsultate, 32)
The priest is called to be a living image of Jesus Christ and so should try to “reflect in himself, as far as is possible, the human perfection which shines forth in the incarnate Son of God” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 43).
In order that his sacred mission be as humanly credible and acceptable as possible, the seminarian is invited to mould his human personality in such a way that it becomes a bridge, not an obstacle, for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ.
Human perfection is only achieved through grace. “indeed, as St Thomas Aquinas reminds us, ”grace builds upon nature”, it does not supplant nature, it perfects it” (The Gift of the Priestly Vocation, 93). Human development, therefore, should not be seen as a task that has to be completed before spiritual development takes place; they go hand in hand. Human development is the enterprise of entrusting our human nature to respond to, and cooperate with, the Holy Spirit.
“Personal accompaniment, which has docibilitas to the Holy Spirit as its goal, is an indispensable means of formation.” (The Gift of the Priestly Vocation, 45). At Oscott, Human Formation is not simply a “programme” but more an “environment” built upon trust, acceptance and authenticity which provides a range of personal accompaniment encounters and group learning experiences.
Consequently, human formation implies developing true serene friendships in which the seminarian learns to bring to human relationships a strong, lively and personal love for Jesus Christ. The community life of the seminary itself encourages this by fostering freedom, maturity and self-knowledge, and resisting selfishness and individualism.