Configuration Stage

The Saint Paul Seminary's Configuration Stage is at the heart of its mission to provide integrated, Catholic formation for priestly ministry. The requirements of the program reflect recent Church documents: the Apostolic Exhortation of St. John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis; the proposals of the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis; and the norms of the Program for Priestly Formation. Men who successfully complete the Theology curriculum receive a Master of Divinity (MDiv.) degree and are prepared to begin a lifetime of priestly ministry. Some seminarians enroll in a dual-degree track, earning a Master of Arts in Theology, as well.

The hall is the basic unit of fraternity and service within the seminary. Seminarians, who share the same priest formator, reside together on the same hall where that priests meets with them. The hall meets weekly for night prayer, sharing of graces and fraternity. Under the leadership of a deacon prefect, each hall also serves the larger community through service at Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, meal preparation, house jobs and a variety of other duties. This system provides opportunities for leadership, team building and responsibility within a supportive environment.

In addition, our recently renovated recreation room overlooking the scenic Mississippi River fosters opportunities for fraternal living and enhances the experience of brotherhood in the house.

To receive the Master of Divinity (MDiv.) degree, the seminarian must successfully complete:

1. 122 credits with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.3 or higher, including a supervised ministry placement, a hospital ministry experience, and the final integrative seminar.

Master of Divinity Curriculum

2. The requirements and evaluation process of the seminary formation program.

Program goals

Human Formation: The goal of human formation is to assist the seminarian in understanding himself and others as human persons created in the image of God and in fully integrating the moral virtues in order that he may serve as a bridge, not an obstacle, for people to encounter Christ.

Spiritual Formation: The goal of spiritual formation is to direct and support the seminarian in developing a personal, ecclesial relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit and in undertaking the conversion of heart required of one called to apostolic ministry.

Intellectual Formation: The goal of intellectual formation is to enable the seminarian to acquire a personal knowledge of God, fully revealed in Jesus Christ, continuously deepened in the life of the Church and expressed in a theological mastery of the Catholic faith and in effective priestly ministry, especially preaching.

Pastoral Formation: The goal of pastoral formation is to assist the seminarian in appropriating the mind and heart of Jesus Christ, Head and Shepherd of the Church, in such an integrated way that he becomes an icon of Christ in the world and fosters discipleship in others.

Some seminarians enroll in a dual-degree track, earning a Master of Arts in Theology (MAT) in addition to a Master of Divinity degree. 

Click here for MAT program goals and requirements. 

In addition to the classroom experience, our seminarians participate in the highly acclaimed teaching parish program.

Under the guidance of seminary faculty and an experienced pastor, each man is assigned to a teaching parish during his years in the configuration stage. Seminarians grow in pastoral charity through extensive engagement with the lay faithful and follow a plan for ministerial development that will best prepare them for ordained pastoral ministry in their dioceses.

They identify competencies essential to the role of the priest, practice those skills with supervision, receive valuable feedback, reflect theologically on their experiences and identify their gifts for service and leadership in the Church as well as areas for continued growth.

Every month, seminarians make a day of recollection. Classes are suspended while a priest, bishop or lay leader presents spiritual conferences. Presenting clergy members also preside at Mass and give the homily.

The day of retreat and reflection is spent in silence to allow for rest in the Lord and integration of formation.

Seminarians participate in an eight-week summer program that combines ministry to the sick and suffering, prayer, theological reflection and a study of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Rural Ministry Practicum is a unique summer experience that brings seminarians to area farms to learn first-hand the challenges and opportunities of rural ministry. In partnership with Catholic Rural Life, a national organization dedicated to the vitality of rural America, our seminarians interact with farmers and their families and reflect on and explore these realities in a contemplative setting outside of the seminary.

To meet the needs of an increasingly diverse Church, seminarians attend Olé Center for Spanish and Culture in Querétaro, Mexico, for eight weeks of Spanish immersion. Each seminarian lives with a host family and works one-on-one with a Spanish teacher to grow in his language abilities and to learn important cultural realities. In addition to valuable language and evangelization skills, seminarians grow in confidence while engaging those from other cultures.

Newly-ordained transitional deacons participate in a 10-week parish placement in their home dioceses to experience parish life, live in a rectory, practice pastoral care and preside and preach at liturgies. Deacons work with their supervising pastor, parish staff and parishioners.

Theology II seminarians spend two weeks in Mexico City to encounter the poor.
By visiting with the inhabitants of the Neza Landfill and working with the Missionaries of Charity, seminarians encounter those who live on the margins and those who minister to them. They also make a pilgrimage to Guadalupe to experience the key role Our Lady plays in Latino culture and in the life of the Church in the Americas.

Seminarians then return to the Twin Cities metro area for a week of encounter with local Latino immigrants, participating in parish life, engaging in discussion with experts in outreach and evangelization, and accompanying local missionaries and youth. The experience concludes with a week-long retreat.

Theology III seminarians make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the so-called “Fifth Gospel,” so that they may be formed by the places so important to salvation history and divine revelation. The pilgrimage also serves as a homiletics practicum, particularly important for those who will soon be ordained as transitional deacons. A silent, directed Ignatian retreat follows the experience to complete their January term.

Prior to ordination to the priesthood, transitional deacons are immersed in the history and life of the Universal Church. Through on-site visits with selected dicasteries of the Roman Curia, as well as religious communities and ecclesial movements, they learn of the Church’s engagement in mission and evangelization, and their implications for ministry in their home dioceses. The experience concludes with a silent, directed Ignatian retreat.

The ordained and lay faculty at The Saint Paul Seminary are committed to each man’s integrated formation and provide the theological foundation of his priestly ministry. Their expertise in Dogmatic and Moral Theology, Sacred Scripture, Liturgical Theology, Homiletics, Philosophy, Pastoral Ministry and Church History is complemented by the personalized attention of an exceptional formation faculty and staff.

In addition, most of our priest formators earn a Certificate in Seminary Formation for Missionary Discipleship from the Seminary Formation Council.

Every week, seminarians gather by class for interactive presentations, seminars or small group discussions designed to deepen their integration across the human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral dimensions of formation. Conferences focus on topics that are important for all disciples, including prayer and virtue, as well as ones particular to the priestly vocation, such as simplicity of life, celibacy and obedience. These sessions have a developmental arc over their years of formation.

Drawing upon the expertise of the formation faculty and staff, including a full-time, licensed psychologist, seminarians are accompanied in reflecting on their personal history in order to grow in self-knowledge and self-acceptance, so as to make an authentic gift of self to Christ and His Church (cf. PPF5, 80).

As called for in the Program of Priestly Formation, each seminarian's progress and development in formation is monitored and reviewed in a general way throughout the year and more intensively during the formal evaluation process during spring semester.

Meet your future priests!

Meet a new seminarian each month + get an inside peek into life at the seminary

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