Intellectual Formation – The roles of leadership in diaconal ministry require that the deacon be a knowledgeable and reliable witness to the Faith and an effective spokesman for the Church’s teaching (theology, church history, Sacred Scripture, homiletics, sacraments and Canon Law). The intellectual content of formation is presented by professors of the SJV Seminary and requires a considerable amount of home study time. Deacons must first understand and practice the essentials of Christian doctrine and life before they can communicate it to others.
Pastoral Formation – A comprehensive formation must relate all that is presented and all that is learned to Pastoral practice, which is the domain within which the future deacon will serve the Church. The man will be expected to move beyond his current and previous ministerial experiences into other areas, such as adult catechesis, religious education, youth ministry, social justice outreach, ecumenism, prison ministry and pastoral care of the sick, elderly or dying. He will also be trained in practical skills and abilities related to the proper and correct service at the altar and various other liturgical rites and settings. The aim is to form the man with a sensitivity of mind and heart to a particular and vocational discipleship of Christ, who came to serve and not be served
Spiritual Formation – The overarching goal of the whole formation program is to help the man develop an interior spiritual life and relationship with God that is stable, mature, docile, obedient, grounded in the faith of the Church, and both Trinitarian and Christocentric. The content of the spiritual formation gives the man a useful survey of Catholic spiritual traditions and a working familiarity with the writings of Saints, Doctors and Fathers of the Church. The primary intent is to foster an encounter with grace that leads to deeper conversion and greater self-offering to Christ and his Church. Each man will develop a holiness that will be the foundation of his life and his ministry.
Human Formation – Besides the intellectual, pastoral and spiritual, there is another dimension of formation that is necessary. It is human formation. The focus of human formation throughout the 4 years is directed to helping the man live in the image of Jesus, fully human seeking perfection in the human virtues, thus becoming fully mature as a human being. The man must understand his own human personality and mold it in such a way that it becomes a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their encountering Jesus.