There is a reciprocal relationship between spiritual and intellectual formation. The intellectual life nourishes the spiritual life, but the spiritual also opens vistas of understanding, in accordance with the classical adage credo ut intelligam (‘I believe in order to know’). Intellectual formation is integral to what it means to be human.
In the seminary programme, intellectual formation culminates in a deepened understanding of the mysteries of faith that is pastorally oriented toward effective priestly ministry, especially preaching. This understanding, however, requires previous intellectual formation and academic integrity as foundational. The overall goal of every stage of seminary formation is to prepare a candidate who is widely knowledgeable about the human condition, deeply engaged in a process of understanding divine revelation, and adequately skilled in communicating his knowledge to as many people as possible. Moreover, continuing education after ordination is a necessity for effective ministry.
Ultimately, intellectual formation in the seminary programme centers on theology as a search for “an ever deeper knowledge of the divine mysteries” (Pastores dabo vobis). Theology’s theoretical and practical dimensions in priestly mission and ministry mean that it must be rigorous both academically and pastorally in its orientation. Finally, the study of theology must be an initiation into a lifelong study of the truths of faith. If the priest is to be a teacher, he must first be a student who continuously pursues an understanding of the faith to which he commits himself and invites his people.