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Mission and Pedagogy

Mission and Pedagogy
The Mission

The Society of Saint Sulpice has one aim: to serve those who are ordained to the priestly ministry (Constitutions, Art. 1), priests and future priests. In order to remain close to those they serve, they chose to remain diocesan priests and remain incardinated to their original diocese. They make no special vows or promises. They are united by priestly charity and the will to carry out their ministry under the authority of their superiors with the help and obligations of a community life.

The Constitutions of the Society bear this out:

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, the High Priest, the Society of St. Sulpice, born in the apostolate of Jean-Jacques Olier, its founder, is a community of diocesan priests whose vocation is the service of those ordained to the priestly ministry.

With this fundamental purpose in view, they devote themselves to the discernment of vocations, to the initial and ongoing formation of priests or to the exercise of other ministries. They fulfill this work with the desire to instruct others in the "interior life" and to form in them the "apostolic spirit.

The Society is a Society of Apostolic Life of pontifical right (Art. 1).

Collaborating with the bishops, the Society wishes to share in the solicitude for the whole Church and to take part in the mutual aid among local churches. Consequently its members may be called upon to exercise their ministries in countries distant from their native lands. Wherever they find themselves, "they will organize their pastoral activity in such a way that it will serve to spread the gospel among non-Christians (Art. 3).

This service, however varied in its expressions, has but one ultimate purpose, namely, to dispose candidates for the ministry to be deeply rooted in the Spirit of Christ, Teacher, Priest and Pastor, and "to become skilled in the ministry of teaching, sanctifying and ruling the people of God (Art. 12).

The Pedagogy

The Society's approach to formation is the fruit of long and thoughtful experience. It can be resumed in the guidelines enumerated in Article 14 of the Constitutions as follows:

  1. The collegial exercise of responsibility which applies first to the formation faculty but which also calls for the collaboration of candidates for ministry, of the diocesan clergy and of other members of the Christian community
  2. A genuine community life of faculty and candidates so as to constitute a "formation community" which prepares for co-responsibility and which allows for necessary confrontation and a better discernment of vocations.
  3. A progressive initiation into a personal spiritual life, which is achieved most especially through regular spiritual direction.
  4. A great concern for the spiritual freedom of the candidates, emphasized by a clear distinction between the responsibility of the Council and that of the spiritual director.
  5. The constant search for union with Christ in whom priests discover the unity of their lives (cf. P.O. 14); in this union are unified the different dimensions of formation (human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral).
The pedagogy of Saint Sulpice emphasizes: the collegial responsibility at all levels (Art. 15 and 17), the collaboration with other ministries and the contact with the realities of the Church and the world (Art. 16), the role of spiritual direction and the function of directors in teaching, academic formation and literary production (Art. 18-23), the pastoral and missionary perspective of the priestly formation and ministry (Art. 1-3 and 10-12), the formation community under the responsibility of a superior (Art. 24), the life in community with seminarians (Art. 25), and finally the fact that the seminaries constitute important centers of theological and pastoral reflection for a diocese or a region (Art. 26).

Concerning this community life, we read in the Constitutions:

Convinced that sharing of their priestly life is the most profound and the most effective teaching, the Priests of Saint Sulpice will live in a closely-knit community with the candidates for the ministry. This will open the way to a true dialogue, which will enable everyone to feel responsible for the community. By this means the concrete conditions of the exercise of ministry in the Church, under the double aspect of fraternal life and of participation in a common mission, will have been explored and already actually experienced. It is within such a context that aptitudes for ministry will show themselves more clearly. (Art. 25).

For further reading on this theme, please consult the following documents:
  • Compagnie de Saint-Sulpice, Histoire, mission et esprit, Paris, Imprimerie Laboureur, 1985, 20 p.
  • Compagnie de Saint-Sulpice, Pratiques pédagogiques et tradition spirituelle, Paris, Imprimerie Laboureur, 1985, 20 p.
  • Compagnie de Saint-Sulpice, Directoire spirituel pour la formation au ministère presbytéral, Paris, Imprimerie Laboureur, 1985, 27 p.
  • Bureau d'Étude et de Recherches de la Province de la France de la Compagnie des Prêtres de Saint-Sulpice, Une pédagogie de la liberté. Notes pédagogiques sur la formation des prêtres aujourd'hui, [s.l.], [s.é.], 2009, 2e éd., 88 p.
ed @ Peter Krasuski Source

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