Human formation is the first of four pillars of formation at Saint John Vianney. Seminarians are expected to grow in virtue, interior freedom, compassion, discipline, respect, and maturity. This is accomplished through prayer, fraternity and guidance from seminary staff. The goal is to become a well-rounded man of communion; a man who fosters true unity and peace among all those he serves.
There is no shortage of fun for the seminarians at Saint John Vianney! Below is a partial list of annual events that are popular with many of our seminarians:
The Alpha-Omega Game: seniors take on the new men in a beginning-of-the-year match up on the football field.
Rectors' Bowl: usually held in October, The SJV JAXX take on The Saint Paul Seminary Sons of Thunder to determine who will take home the coveted Rectors' Trophy. Played under the lights on the University of St. Thomas football field, this highly anticpated, community-wide event includes announcers, referees, and a pep band.
Seminary Chess Tournament: using the traditional bracket format, competitors play until a champion is crowned.
Coffee House: talented groups perform and a winner is chosen by secret ballot.
Dust Bowl: to fight off the dark winter days, a creative group of seminarians plan an evening of down-home fun that has included three-legged races and mechanical bull rides.
Ice Fishing Tournament: Held every February, seminarians head to a local lake for a day of ice fishing. The seminarian with the largest catch receives a prize as well as the esteem of his classmates.
Basketball: on-campus hoops include competition with the Catholic Men's House; off-campus competition includes an annual Priests v. Seminarians basketball tournament at a local Catholic high school.
Whiffle Ball: perhaps the grand-daddy of all semianry competitions is the spring Whiffle Ball league, complete with rosters, jerseys, a commissioner, a World Series-style playoff and championship game, and enthusiastic fans. MLB should take note.
Floor life is one of the primary ways that the seminary fosters fraternity, boosts morale, and supports each seminarian on his journey to holiness. Saint John Vianney has four residential floors with approximately 30 students living on each floor. Each floor is encouraged to develop a more local community within the larger seminary community. This is accomplished in part by the selection of a patron saint for each floor; various floor outings and activities throughout the year; Monday night floor meetings; and the formation of basketball and baseball teams. In addition, each seminarian is assigned a floor chore to help develop personal discipline and service to his brothers.
To help forge strong fraternal bonds, seminarians participate in groups known as fraternities and companies.
A fraternity consists of men from the same diocese. If a particular diocese has a small number of seminarians at Saint John Vianney, they are encouraged to join with a larger diocese. The fraternities provide an opportunity to share fellowship through discussion, social activities and occasional trips outside the seminary. The fraternity also organizes the visits of their vocation director each year.
A company, which includes four to six men, is facilitated by an older seminarian. Companies function much like a priest support group and allow seminarians to share on a much deeper level. All discussions within a company are strictly confidential.
Resident Assistants, or RAs, are the student leaders for the seminary community. They have various duties which include organizing events, assisting any brother who is in need, running weekly floor meetings, providing guidance for younger students, and keeping the faculty updated on any new developments. Like other RAs at the University of St. Thomas, this is a paid position.
Each company has a trainer who welcomes new men to SJV and serves as a “big brother” during the first few months of the school year. The trainers help the new men navigate the University of St. Thomas system, answer questions, help with any issues that arise, and watch for signs of homesickness. Through regular group and individual meetings, the trainers help the new men adjust to seminary life and become full members of the seminary community.
Prior to orientation, RAs and trainers prepare for the new men to arrive by participating in a two-day retreat that focuses on plans for the upcoming academic year. RAs and trainers then assist the new men and their families on move-in day.
At the beginning of fall semester, all seminarians are required to attend VIRTUS, a mandatory session for those who work with minors, taught by the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The word virtus derives from Latin, meaning valor, moral strength, excellence, and worth. Upon completion, each seminarian receives a certificate verifying his attendance.
Understanding the importance of a shared meal, Saint John Vianney has a community dinner every Tuesday evening following evening prayer and Mass. Seminarians take turns setting up the Pope Benedict Room, bringing the meal over from University of St. Thomas food service, serving, and cleaning up after the meal.
In order to balance the intensity of seminary life, one weekend a month is designated as an open weekend. Seminarians are allowed and encouraged to visit their families or dioceses and to engage in social or missionary activities. Some open weekends are unique to SJV's schedule, while others are in conjunction with the University of St. Thomas calendar, including Thanksgiving and Easter break.
Now in its eighth year, Friends of St. Joseph (FSJ) is a chastity support group that was established in response to the ever-increasing challenges our young men face in the age of the internet. A counselor organizes and facilitates FSJ groups that meet regularly for support, encouragement and accountability. Strict confidentiality is observed.
SJV has established a policy that allows men to use technology in a very directed and positive way, including: one hour per week on Facebook in order for seminarians to stay in touch with their dioceses and vocation directors; video games are only played on weekends for a limited amount of time; and one hour per day of non-academic technology usage (news, sports, etc.). During the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent, each floor may encourage additional technology restrictions as a way to grow in holiness.