The Aim of Spiritual Formation

The aim of the Spiritual Formation Programme at Oscott is given in Pastores Dabo Vobis 45 – 50. Spiritual formation is at the core of formation for the priesthood and is central to the future priest’s identity and mission.
Because it is chiefly the work of the Holy Spirit in cooperation with human freedom, the responsibility for spiritual growth and formation lies principally with the seminarian.

The aim of the Spiritual Formation Programme is thus to help the seminarian learn the life-long habit of living in intimate union with Jesus Christ, constantly seeking his friendship. This involves:

  • Learning the genuine meaning of Christian prayer and prayerful reflection on the Word of God, as put forward in the Church’s Scriptures and Tradition, so as to become a man of God and one who can help others turn to God;
  • Learning how to participate lovingly and actively in the sacred mysteries, above all in daily Mass, the “summit and source” of the sacraments and the Church’s life; how to cultivate the virtue and discipline of the Sacrament of Penance; and how to recite the Liturgy of the Hours so as to become inserted in a living way in the Paschal Mystery; and developing a spirit of humble and disinterested service of others, especially the poor, with a love that is both strong and tender, in imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so as to become a man of charity living in obedience, celibacy and self-denial. Spiritual formation will also pay particular attention to preparing the future-priest to know, appreciate, love and live celibacy out of genuine evangelical, spiritual and pastoral motives and in accordance with its true nature and purpose.
St Mary's Oscott Mass image

Various Elements

The Spiritual Formation Programme at Oscott is not the sole responsibility of the College’s Spiritual Director but is ‘harmoniously blended’ with the other dimensions of formation. Its specific elements include:

  • Daily preparation and celebration of Mass, centre of College life;
  • Regular exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, with the possibility of private prayer before the Blessed Sacrament elsewhere in the College;
  • The celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours;
  • Frequent opportunities to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation;
  • The cultivation of daily private prayer, meditation (alone and with others), self-discipline and spiritual reading, especially Scripture (lectio divina) and the classics;
  • Devotion to Mary and the saints, including the recitation of the rosary;
  • A weekly House Talk and Spiritual Conference;
  • The provision of annual College retreats and occasional days of recollection, as well as retreats in connection with scrutinies and ministries, plus an annual pilgrimage;
  • Year-specific courses on spirituality and Christian living;
  • Opportunities for more informal styles of communal prayer such as in groups, together with developing the ability to oer extempore prayer;
  • Personal self-denial and fasting in accord with the liturgical season or need;
  • Appreciation of and familiarity with traditional Catholic devotions as well as appreciating new movements and ways of prayer The cultivation of a virtuous, morally converted life as the Gospel requires.

Seminarian Responsibility

Priest preaching from a lectern image

It is the responsibility of the seminarian at the start of each Level of the formation programme and after each scrutiny or assessment-period to discuss and work out with his Spiritual Director a personal programme of spiritual formation for the year ahead. The aim will be to develop the virtuous habits of prayer and spiritual development. Whilst the specifics of this will vary considerably according to need, each programme will include at least the following common features:

  • Mass each day;
  • Morning Prayer each day, and Evening Prayer on Saturdays and Sundays;
  • Attendance at the Holy Hour on Thursdays;
  • In the First Year, meditation each morning;
  • Recitation of the Rosary on Saturdays

Spiritual Direction

The Spiritual Formation Programme at Oscott is not the sole responsibility of the College’s Spiritual Director but is ‘harmoniously blended’ with the other dimensions of formation. Its specific elements include:

  • Daily preparation and celebration of Mass, centre of College life;
  • Regular exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, with the possibility of private prayer before the Blessed Sacrament elsewhere in the College;
  • The celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours;
  • Frequent opportunities to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation;
  • The cultivation of daily private prayer, meditation (alone and with others), self-discipline and spiritual reading, especially Scripture (lectio divina) and the classics;
  • Devotion to Mary and the saints, including the recitation of the rosary;
  • A weekly House Talk and Spiritual Conference;
  • The provision of annual College retreats and occasional days of recollection, as well as retreats in connection with scrutinies and ministries, plus an annual pilgrimage;
  • Year-specific courses on spirituality and Christian living;
  • Opportunities for more informal styles of communal prayer such as in groups, together with developing the ability to oer extempore prayer;
  • Personal self-denial and fasting in accord with the liturgical season or need;
  • Appreciation of and familiarity with traditional Catholic devotions as well as appreciating new movements and ways of prayer The cultivation of a virtuous, morally converted life as the Gospel requires.

I will make you fishers of men