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Spiritual Year

Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Overbrook



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Introduction In his Apostolic Exhortation, Pastores Dabo Vobis, Blessed Pope John Paul II called for a sufficient period of preparation prior to major seminary formation due to differences between the “style of life” in the times in which we live and the “style of life” required by seminary formation (cf. n. 62). As a supplemental program, the Spiritual Year of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary responds to this, consistent with the Vatican II teaching which called for “a suitable interval of time for a more intensive spiritual preparation” for seminarians (Optatam Totius, n. 12). Key goals of the year include the opportunity for the seminarian to enter deeply into solitude so as to solidify his self-knowledge—including his vocational calling—and to profoundly affect the seminarian’s interiority with the heart of Christ. This year strives for a life-experience which will allow the seminarian to “find God in all things” such that the stillness of the year—freed from academic grades and credits—will foster a monasticism of the heart to remain with the candidate throughout ordination and priestly life. A daily holy hour, and an emphasis on the daily Ignatian examen will be key practices highlighted throughout the year.



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Intellectual Formation The core courses which meet once and every week are the following: Scripture, Spiritual Classics, Catechism. Other shorter courses include the following: Theology of the Body, Ignatian Discernment, Celibacy, Liturgy of the Hours, Music, Lectio Divina, Ignatian Prayer, Vatican II Documents, Pastores Dabo Vobis, Evangelization, Communication skills, Salvation History, Christian Anthropology Grades are not assigned, however, classroom participation and one synthetic essay per semester will be used to gauge the student’s ability to integrate course-work with prayer. A key assignment of the Spiritual Year, facilitated through the courses, is a complete read of the Bible and Catechism.

Spiritual Practices Central to each day is the celebration of the Eucharist. The Hours of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer are prayed in common. A holy hour occurs each morning. The rosary and stations of the cross are incorporated regularly. Devotion to Mary will be essential, and since her womb became the mold for our Blessed Lord, she takes a special role in forming a priestly heart after her Son. • A fall 3-day retreat, spring 5-day retreat, and concluding 30-day Ignatian Exercises are offered with appropriate preparation and guidance. • The seminarian is required to have a regular spiritual director whom he can meet with, with increased frequency. • As a means of separating from the noise of the world, the Spiritual Year includes a media fast. Phones, television, computers, popular media and other electronic devices are not used Monday through Friday. All-day Saturday, the media fast is lifted; it is also relaxed on Sunday.



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Human Formation Human formation happens in both formal and informal situations. Significant genuine Christian etiquette and courtesy happens informally through communal life, including regularly shared meals. Various human formation talks include the following: community living, effective fraternal correction, the role of silence in our lives, Christian manhood with St. Joseph as model. Each seminarian is given a house job as a means of supporting the community and development which results from the experience.

Pastoral Formation A central feature of the Spiritual Year is the month-long immersion program which begins the 2nd semester. Seminarians are assigned in pairs to travel simply, with few belongings to serve the poor. This experience provides a concrete shedding away from materiality which can so easily mask the interior. In addition, weekly the seminarian receives a field education assignment emphasizing service.



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Pattern of Life 6:15-7:30 am

Eucharistic Adoration, Morning Prayer and Benediction

The daily schedule for the Spiritual Year is focused on providing ample time for prayer and active reflection. A typical schedule is shown to the left. Interior time is the opportunity for the seminarian to choose among studying, reading, prayer and constructive communal conversation.

7:30 am


Afternoons will always include time for recreation.

8:00-9:15 am

Interior Time – study, read, pray, constructive conversation

Evenings will vary from a communal movie (Sunday evenings), to group lectio divina, to more interior time.

Typical Horarium

9:30-11:30 am Classroom time 11:45 am


12:30 pm


1:00 pm

Work hour

2:00 pm

Free time

5:20 pm


5:45 pm

Evening Prayer

6:00 pm


7:00-9:00 pm

varies by day

9:00 pm

Night Prayer Grand Silence

No workshops take place on Saturdays. This is a day for “re-creation.” The seminarian is free after morning Mass (time to be decided) for the whole day until evening, with the goal of spending this leisure day in a productive way for human growth. Contingent upon enrollment, it is envisioned to have Eucharistic adoration through the night from Saturday night into Sunday morning, whereby the seminarian enters into the hopeful expectation of the Resurrection each week in deep communion with Mary and our Eucharistic Lord. Wednesdays and Sundays will be a distinct schedule. On Wednesdays, the Spiritual Year seminarians will join the greater St. Charles Seminary community for Mass and Rector’s Dinner. Fridays are open days to allow for communal outings. The Philadelphia region offers diverse options in parks, museums, shrines and more.



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Tentative Schedule 2014-2015 Date Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SY Event Opening Day

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Thursday, August 21, 2014


Friday, August 22, 2014


Monday, August 25, 2014

First Class

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day

Friday, September 12, 2014 Sunday, October 5, 2014

Rector’s Weekend begins post Mass Fall Retreat begins–evening

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fall Retreat

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fall Retreat

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 Friday, October 10, 2014 Monday, October 13, 2014 Saturday, November 1, 2014 Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fall Retreat - ends evening Rector’s Weekend begins post Mass Rector’s Weekend ends All Saints Day / 40 Hours All Souls Day / 40 Hours

Monday, November 3, 2014

40 Hours

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

St. Charles Day

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 Monday, December 4, 2014 Friday, December 19, 2014

Thanksgiving Break begins post Mass Immaculate Conception Christmas Break Begins, post Mass



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Monday, January 12, 2015

Return from Break; Immersion Orientation

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Departure for Immersion Assignment

Thursday, February 12, 2015 Friday, February 13, 2015 Wednesday, February 18, 2015 Friday, February 27, 2015 Sunday, March 15, 2015 Saturday, March 28, 2015 Sunday, April 12, 2015 Friday, May 8, 2015

Return from Immersion Immersion Processing Ash Wednesday Rector’s Weekend begins post Mass 5-day Ignatian Retreat Begins Holy Week Easter Break, post Mass Easter break ends Last Class Day

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Diaconate Ordination

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Priesthood Ordination

Monday, May 18, 2015

30-Day Retreat begins

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

30-Day Retreat ends

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Processing Day

Friday, June 19, 2015

Processing Day

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Conclusion after morning Mass



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To maintain the integrity of the Spiritual Year program, enrollment is limited. For more information contact:

Reverend Christopher Cooke (610) 785-6208

Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary Overbrook 100 East Wynnewood Road Wynnewood, PA 19096

Spiritual Year