OSJMS CONTINGENCY PLAN for COVID 19: Seminary Formation at Home Program
Updated: Sep 20, 2021
The crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic caused great fear and anxiety to the entire world. It disrupted many aspects of our lives, from our health concerns, economic issues, and educational systems. The “New Normal”, which is not exactly normal, has given us new challenges especially in the Seminary Formation. These challenges brought us to make extraordinary measures and adjustments in the way that we program the formation of seminarians. The task is for us to take the necessary precautions and provisions provided by the Department of Health and the Department of Education during this time of the pandemic without compromising the vision and mission of the Oblates of St. Joseph Minor Seminary.
The Seminary is a formation center for young men aspiring to the Religious Life and the Priesthood. Its aim is to holistically form these seminarians in all aspects of their Human and Christian Formation. Education is necessary but it is only a parcel of its concerns. The restrictions of the pandemic make seminary formation unconventional because a huge part of it lies in living within a community, that is, being together in one place and interacting with one another in a schedule of activities. However, the safety and health of our seminarians are on top of our priorities. In line with this, the Formators of the OSJ Minor Seminary propose this contingency plan for the Formation Year 2020-2021 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Provide guidelines for the Formation of the OSJ Minor Seminarians at their homes.
2. Formulate the Academic System for E-learning or Online classes.
I. Seminary Formation at Home Program
(Parents/ Guardians as Co-Formators and Value of Self-Discipline)
A. Seminarians will stay at the safety of their homes for the time being.
· Unless a vaccine for COVID is developed and made available for everyone, we do not recommend seminarians to return to the usual seminary formation inside the seminary. To ensure the safety of everyone, the seminarians will have to stay at their homes
· With the help of their parents who will act as formators, the seminarians are expected to continue to practice the essential elements of seminary formation such as following the prescribed schedule of the seminary and the discipline that is expected of them.
· The role of the parents as co-formators will be very important in this program, especially in the human and Christian formation of their sons.
· What should the parents do as co-formators?
1. They are responsible in their son/s observance of discipline expected of them as seminarians.
2. They must make it sure that their son/s continue to follow the rules and regulations stated in our seminary handbook.
3. They must also monitor their son/s observance of the schedule provided by the seminary.
4. They are also required to be in constant communication with the formators regarding updates, concerns, and other matters about formation.
5. Finally, parents will also be asked to answer an evaluation form by the end of the formation year or if the situation returns to normal.
B. Seminarians must not see this crisis as a hindrance to seminary formation but rather, it challenges them to value self-discipline.
· Seminarians are practically on their own homes where the seminary formators’ presence is not around. It is now a greater challenge for them to realize that their discipline and formation are not dependent on the presence of their formators but rather on themselves.
· They can either take this seminary formation at home seriously and accept the responsibility or see this as an opportunity to disregard the seminary rules, discipline, and schedules.
· The seminarians are expected to bring the formation that they received inside the seminary to their respective homes by following the structure and way of life they experience in the seminary.
· The seminary will strive to provide the program and materials needed for them to be guided in this formation at home set up. Formators will communicate to the seminarians about these through their parents.
· Take note that the seminarians will still be given evaluation by their parents based on how they observed the guidelines for seminary formation at home. The evaluation will serve as material for the formators to process and guide seminarians in their human and Christian formation.
· What should the seminarians do in their seminary formation at home?
1. They will be given a structured daily schedule that they are expected to religiously observe with the guidance of their parents.
2. They must perform the activities prescribed by the program of formation especially spiritual and academic activities.
3. They will also be required to submit results or proofs of completion of certain tasks or activities.
4. They need to undergo individual dialogue and peer conference with their guidance counselor, prefect of discipline, and spiritual director. This will be possibly done online or via video call.
5. They will also be required to have a daily reflection notebook which will be checked by their parents. This can be a matter for discussion during the dialogue between the parents and the formators.
Seminary Formation at Home Program Matrix
1. Holy Eucharist
The Eucharist is the center and heart of our Christian Formation. In order to cultivate their devotion to the Holy Mass, seminarians must participate in the daily celebration of the Mass via live streaming in the seminary Facebook page.
OSJMS Formators will share the live stream celebration of the Eucharist during the scheduled time.
Parents and family members are also encourage to attend the celebration of the Eucharist.
Seminarians must follow the guidelines on attending online masses such as preparing a simple altar where they may place their gadget which will be used for viewing the celebration. They must also observe proper reverence and active participation.
2. Communal and Personal Prayer
Prayer is our direct communication with God and the soul of our vocation. The seminarians must pray the prescribed prayers noted in the schedule. The Liturgy of the Hours, as the official prayer of the Church, will be prayed as a community. Devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. Joseph Marello, and St. Stanislaus Kostka are also needed for seminarians to grow in their spiritual life.