Mission and Pedagogy|
Mission and Pedagogy
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 Society bear this out:
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
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).
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
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 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
- 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
- A genuine community life of faculty and candidates so as to
constitute a "formation community"
for co-responsibility and which allows for necessary
confrontation and a better discernment of vocations.
- A progressive initiation into a personal
life, which is achieved most especially through
regular spiritual direction.
- 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
- 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
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.
For further reading on this theme, please consult the following
- Compagnie de Saint-Sulpice, Histoire,
mission et esprit, Paris,
Imprimerie Laboureur, 1985, 20 p.
- Compagnie de Saint-Sulpice, Pratiques
tradition spirituelle, Paris, Imprimerie Laboureur, 1985, 20 p.
- Compagnie de Saint-Sulpice, Directoire
spirituel pour la
formation au ministère presbytéral, Paris,
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.],
2e éd., 88 p.