Spiritual Formation

At Saint John Vianney College Seminary, seminarians discern their vocation to the priesthood while devoting their gifts and energy to God's will for their future. Undergraduate men have the privilege of growing closer to Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother through a regular schedule of spiritual formation, which places prayer and the sacraments at the center of seminary life. Saint John Vianney College Seminary is known for its sound formation and fidelity to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

The powerful transformation that takes place within the hearts of the men at Saint John Vianney Seminary is based on a solid foundation of prayer. Each day includes a holy hour with Eucharistic adoration, morning and evening prayer, and Mass. Priests are available to hear confessions every day as well. Weekly floor meetings begin with night prayer and conclude with a prayer to that floor’s patron saint, and Sunday evening announcements are followed by the rosary and night prayer.

Optional times for prayer are available throughout the week as well, including Marian processions, communal rosaries, and the Angelus. Every fall, seminarians organize and lead a 40-day Marian consecration according to the teachings of St. Louis de Montfort.

Every seminarian is assigned a spiritual director and may remain with him for his entire time at Saint John Vianney. All seminary spiritual directors must be priests according to the guidelines established by the United Sates Conference of Catholic Bishops. At a minimum, a seminarian meets with his spiritual director twice a month; however, he may schedule additional sessions with his director whenever needed. 

The rector of Saint John Vianney Seminary presents two Rector’s Conferences each year. Helod in the chapel on Sunday evenings, conference topics include community life, chastity, sainthood, vocational discernment, the nature of the Church, and service to others. 

Each seminary class participates in 12 spiritual conferences per academic year. Spiritual conferences are presented by staff priests and are designed to be sequential, building upon each other throughout the four years of college seminary. 

New Men: the four pillars of formation (fall); the history of Christian spirituality (spring)

Second-Year Men: the discernment of spirits as presented by St. Ignatius (fall); diocesan priestly identity (spring)

Third-Year Men: the lives of priest saints (fall); St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body (spring)

Seniors: discerning God's will (healing and deliverance ministry; family systems theory and its impact on spirituality; spirituality and parish life; transitioning to major seminary)

Retreats are an important component in a man's journey of discernment at Saint John Vianney.

All seminarians go on retreat prior to the start of the school year. Opportunities for the sacraments, prayer, silence and fraternity are essential components of the formation process. For some, this August retreat will be their first spiritual retreat; for upperclassmen, this early retreat prepares them for the weeklong canonical retreats in January.  

January is the ideal time for seminarians to immerse themselves in service and silence outside of the classroom, with new men going on a mission trip and upperclassmen participating in directed retreats at a variety of retreat centers in the Upper Midwest. 

In conjunction with The Saint Paul Seminary, Saint John Vianney participates in the annual Borromeo weekend. Always held in early November to commemorate the feast day of St. Charles Borromeo, this special event is based on the traditional 40 hours devotion. It begins on Friday evening with Mass in St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel, followed by a beautiful and dramatic candlelight procession to St. Mary's Chapel. For the next 40 hours, seminarians and the community gather for Eucharistic adoration. The weekend concludes with Mass on Sunday morning followed by a brunch. This highly anticipated event is an opportunity to build greater fraternity between the seminaries.

The Schola is the seminary's choir, led by local music directors. Gregorian chant is emphasized, as well as the ability to read the ancient forms of musical notation. Latin hymns are sung during Eucharistic adoration. Members of the Schola provide music for Mass and special seminary events to offer greater glory to God.