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Seminarians at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit (Detroit Catholic/ Marek Dziekonski)

A new formation program at United States seminaries will see first-year seminarians have more prayer time and less screen time. Source: CNA.

The sixth edition of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Program of Priestly Formation, or PPF, which began to be implemented last year in seminaries across the country, mandates a “propaedeutic” year for all men first entering into seminary.

Following this guidance, Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit will implement a year of preparation for first-year seminarians starting this year, when men discerning the priesthood will focus on personal and spiritual growth, and less on academic work.

A key feature of the propaedeutic year — “propaedeutic” meaning preparatory or preliminary — will be limited screen and device time and more time dedicated to forming a sense of collegiality among seminarians, helping them to develop a spiritual life rooted in prayer as they discern the vocation to which God is calling them, said Fr Stephen Pullis, director of graduate pastoral formation at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

Fr Pullis told Detroit Catholic that the propaedeutic year “has fewer classes, a different rhythm of life to help them adjust to growing in their human formation and growing spiritually as well.”

The change of schedule comes after recommendations from the Holy See on what seminarian formation needs to encompass to form priests cantered in prayer, Fr Pullis said.

“One of the challenges men coming into the seminary often have is they used to be very busy,” Fr Pullis said. “We are used to a life on devices, social media, email, lots of noise, and that can be a difficult adjustment to listening to the Lord’s voice.”

The goal isn’t to shun technology, Fr Pullis said, but to place technology and worldly needs in their rightful place.

The propaedeutic year has been installed in other seminaries around the country and has yielded positive results for seminarians who appreciate the time to unplug from the outside world and reconnect with the people and community in front of them, Fr Pullis said.


First-year seminarians will unplug from technology starting in fall at Detroit seminary (Daniel Meloy, CNA)