Human Formation

SJV seeks to form each seminarian to be a well-rounded man of communion, a man who fosters true unity and peace among those he serves. This is accomplished through a life of prayer, fraternity and individual accompaniment from seminary staff. Each seminarian meets regularly with his priest formation advisor who encourages and challenges him to grow in self-awareness and self-acceptance so that he can make a sincere gift of himself in service and charity.

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 seminary 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. SJV has four residential floors, with approximately 25 students per floor, which creates a local community within the larger seminary. Each floor chooses a patron saint, organizes outings and activities, participates in Monday night meetings, and forms teams for various competitions. In addition, each seminarian is assigned a floor chore to help develop personal discipline and service to his seminarian brothers.

SJV seminarians experience great joy and vitality from their fraternal life, which includes a wide variety of extracurricular activities. From Frisbee, football games, and wiffle ball tournaments to talent shows, music ensembles, and chess tournaments, there is something for everyone.


Diocesan Fraternities

A diocesan fraternity meets every two weeks and includes men from the same diocese. It is an opportunity for them to share fellowship through discussion, social and cultural activities, off -campus
trips and Sunday brunches. The diocesan fraternity also organizes visits with its vocation director.

Fraternal Groups

A fraternal group includes three to five men and is facilitated initially by an older
seminarian. The groups meet every other week to support each other and to share their faith and personal life on a deeper and confidential level.

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, SJV has a community dinner on site every Tuesday evening. Seminarians take turns 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.    

There are seven full-time priests on staff who are committed to the formation of our seminarians. They represent a variety of sending dioceses
and received their formation at The Saint Paul Seminary (St. Paul, MN), the Pontifi cal North American College (Rome), Mundelein Seminary (Chicago), and Sacred Heart Major Seminary (Detroit), bringing a depth and breadth of knowledge and experience to the formation program at SJV. Our priest staff receives training and regularly contributes to the programs at the Institute for Priestly Formation and the Seminary Formation Council.