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OSJMS CONTINGENCY PLAN for COVID 19: Seminary Formation at Home Program

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

Context


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.


Objectives:


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


Spiritual Formation

Activity

Description

Person-in-Charge

Desired Response

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.


OSJMS Formators will have a live stream of the liturgy of the hours on our Facebook page according to the schedule. This also serves as a guide for seminarians who are not yet well familiar in using the breviary.


Parents and family members are also invited to join in the communal prayer. They are recommended to pray the rosary and novenas together as a family.


Seminarians must simultaneously join in prayer using their breviary at home. Other prayers such as the rosary and novenas must be prayed personally or together with the whole family.


3. Meditation/ Examination of Conscience/ Spiritual Journal and Reflection Writing

Meditation allows the seminarians to become closer to God by having a personal dialogue with Him. They must allot time everyday to meditate, have their examination of conscience and write their personal reflection about the Sunday Gospel.


Seminarians must submit on their Google Classroom for Formation a personal reflection on the Gospel of the previous Sunday. Parents must be able to check also if their son/s are faithful in making their reflections.


Seminarians must set time for meditation and reflection writing. The suggested format is one page reflection typewritten and attached to the Classwork Tab of their Google Classroom. They are greatly encouraged to share personal experiences and also to write their reflections using the English language.


4. Sacrament of Reconciliation/ Confession

It is very important for seminarians to see the Mercy and Compassion of God in their lives. The Sacrament of Reconciliation allows the seminarian to grow mature spiritually and to repent from their sins.


The Spiritual Director and Confessor who are not capable of meeting the seminarians personally may ask the seminarians to find the nearest possible priest and ask them for the possibility of receiving the sacrament at home.


Seminarians are asked to be honest and faithful to this activity with their Spiritual Director and Confessor during their personal dialogue.


5. Holy Hour for Vocations

The Holy Hour is our devotion to the Body of Christ outside of the Holy Mass. This is for the intention of asking God for more vocations to the religious life and the priesthood and we also pray for the pandemic to end.


The OSJMS Formators will have a live stream at our Facebook page on the scheduled time for Holy Hour.


Seminarians are required to privately join in prayer during the Holy Hour. The protocol for online celebration of the Mass shall be applied.


6. Individual Spiritual Direction and Guidance Counselling

Spiritual Direction is the dialogue between the seminarian and the Spiritual Director regarding matters in the formation of their spiritual life. Guidance Counselling, on the other hand, is the dialogue between the Guidance Counsellor and the seminarian about the issues needed to be addressed in the psychological, emotional, physical, and even intellectual aspects of their lives.


The Spiritual Director and the Guidance Counsellor shall provide a scheduled encounter with the individual seminarians at least twice the entire F.Y. or as necessary. This shall be done through video call or chat messenger.


The parents must remind their children on the communication to them by these two offices.


The seminarians must submit themselves to this activity with honesty and trust with their Spiritual Director and Guidance Counsellor.


7. Online Monthly Recollection

Every month, the seminarians are given the chance to have a recollection that serves as a supplement in their spiritual formation. Different topics about spirituality and vocation will be shared by speakers to the seminarians.


The OSJMS Formators will provide the topics and ask speakers, either from the Formators or other confreres, to share their thoughts and reflections through online live conference or a recorded video.


The seminarians are required to be present during this recollection using their gadgets to view them. They shall also be asked to write a reflection about the topic shared in the online conference.


Human Formation

Activity

Description

Person-in-Charge

Desired Response

1. Class Encounter/ Sharing

We cannot deny the fact that one of the anxiety that seminarians may be facing in this crisis is the longing for their peers and the feeling of being alone. The class encounter will serve as a sort of “kamustahan” and sharing of experiences.


The elected class representative of each class will be the one responsible for facilitating the activity which will be done online.


The OSJMS Formators will be monitoring the class encounter and may also share some insights or words of advice to the class.


Seminarians have to realize that they are not alone and we are all in this situation. They must make themselves present in this activity. Absence without necessary or acceptable reason will be subject for evaluation.


2. Individual Colloquium/ Dialogue

The seminarians’ formation is a personal journey that needs a lot of guidance so as not to be at lost. They are expected to be open to their formators about their personal concerns and on the other hand, the formators must be able to process and understand their situations.


The Prefect of Discipline is responsible for making a schedule for individual colloquium at least twice for the entire F.Y.


The Guidance Counsellor shall also do the same and may disclose matters that require the formators’ decisions and actions.


Seminarians must make themselves available on the date and time of their scheduled colloquium. They must be open and honest in order for them to receive the necessary help in their formation as a seminarian.


3. Family/ Parents Encounter

Parents are not exempted from the anxiety that the situation we have are causing to our lives. It is also important for the formators to listen to the parents of our seminarians.


The OSJMS Formators will make themselves available for online dialogue with the parents regarding the formation of their sons at home and other concerns.


The parents need to make a reservation for the online encounter which is also based on the availability of the formators. It will be a first-come-first-serve reservation.


Community Formation

Activity

Description

Person-in-Charge

Desired Response

1. House Cleaning

The Congregation of the Oblates of St. Joseph values hardwork and manual labor by the example of our Patron, St. Joseph. Seminarians have the schedule for house chores and their assignments will be directed to the parents by the formators.


The Prefect of Discipline will give the parents the areas of assignment for the house cleaning every week.


The parents are tasked to check and evaluate whether or not the seminarians properly cleaned the area of responsibility.


Seminarians must do the house chores as scheduled. However, this does not mean that outside of the scheduled time, they will not be having the initiative to clean or arrange things around their house.


2. Sports and Recreation

Part of taking care of our health is through sports and recreation, as well as proper exercise and relaxation. During this time that contact sports are prohibited and they are not allowed to play outside, the seminarians are encouraged to engage in other available activities with their family members. Examples: Zumba/ Dance/ Aerobics/ Indoor Games.


They are not prohibited from computer or e-games but these must be under the guidance of their parents.


The parents will also have to monitor the recreational activities of their son/s. They must also remind them of the time and schedule for playing.


Seminarians must understand the purpose of recreation and relaxation. They also have to realize that there are things that must be prioritized aside from playing.


Daily Schedule for Seminarians’ Formation at Home


Activity Time

Rising/ Showers/ Personalia 5:30 am - 6:00 am


Online Lauds and Holy Mass (Everyday) 6:00 am - 7:00 am


Online Lauds and St. Joseph Rosary (Wednesday) 6:00 am - 7:00 am


Breakfast 7:00 am - 7:30 am


Online Class 7:45 am - 10:00 am


Break/ Merienda 10:00 am - 10:15 am


Online Class/ Performance Task/ Activities 10:15 am - 11:45 am


Angelus/ Lunch 11:45 am - 1:00 pm


Online Class/ Performance Task/ Activities 1:00 pm - 3:45 pm


Break/ Merienda 3:45 pm - 4:00 pm


Grades 7, 9, 11 (Monday and Wednesday - Household Chores / Tuesday and Thursday - Sports and Recreation) 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


Grades 8, 10, 12 (Tuesday and Thursday – Household Chores / Monday and Wednesday – Sports and Recreation) 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm



Friday will be freetime for everyone. 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


Showers/ Personalia 5:30 pm - 6:00 pm


Online Vespers (Everyday) 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Rosary (Monday and Thursday) 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Novena to St. Joseph Marello (Tuesday) 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Novena to St. Joseph and Holy Eucharist (Wednesday) 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Holy Hour Online (First Thursday) 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Dinner 7:00 pm - 7:30 pm


Compline/ Night Prayers (Personal and Not Online) 7:30 pm - 8:00 pm


Strict Study Period 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm


Lights off 9:30 pm


Saturdays and Sundays will be spent as time for bonding with the family. During these days also, scheduled activities regarding human and spiritual formation will be held such as dialogue with the Prefect of Discipline/ Spiritual Director/ Guidance Counsellor. Prayers and the Holy Eucharist are not postponed on Saturdays and Sundays rather it is greatly encouraged that the entire family prays and attends the mass together.


NOTA BENE:


1. Formation at home relies on the responsibility of the parents as co-formators. They must realize they are hand-in-hand with the seminary in the growth and development of their son/s formation. Covering up of their son/s failure to comply with the schedule and requirements will not help but rather block the development of their son/s formation. (Challenge: Will this be only considered as a burden for the parents?)


2. The parents must understand that it is their responsibility as well to provide the needs of their son/s especially the things necessary to make this seminary formation at home possible such as a gadget for online communication and of course an internet connection. This also includes providing an environment suitable for the seminarians to do the prescribed activities such as a private place and atmosphere for prayer and personal dialogue. (Challenge: Will they have enough financial means to meet the requirements of the online program? Availability of gadgets and internet connection)


3. The OSJMS Formators will make as much as possible for this program to be helpful for seminarians and not a huge burden for the parents. We must understand that this is only temporary applicable until the vaccine is discovered and available and/or the cases of Covid-19 patients in the country are zero or closer to none. If that happens, the seminarians will be asked to return to the usual seminary formation. (Challenge: Will the Formators be able to prepare the parents for this program? The need of orientation and proper communication with the parents.)


4. The seminary formation at home will also consider changes in the list of fees that the parents have to provide for their son/s. The Board and Lodging Fee is perhaps the one that will be greatly affected by this setup. This will also be helpful for parents to have the means to provide other needs of their son/s especially for the online activities. (Challenge: Will the parents be able to understand that their son/s will receive the same quality formation and education even though they are at home? Can we give them the assurance of such?)


5. During online activities, it is important that the parents also monitor their children. Using split screen or opening other windows outside of the required activity is strictly prohibited in order to keep their focus. (Challenge: Online classes are done using gadgets such as mobile phones, computers, and tablets. Some students will find it difficult to have focus during long span of classes. Some may even come up with ways to have their online classes and at the same time do other things. Using split screen mode is one of the known ways of distraction in online classes. Will the parents be able to guide their son/s during their classes to avoid such misbehavior and lack of focus?)


II. Online Flexible Learning System

(Education Plan in Response to the Challenges of COVID-19)



Academic Formation

Activity

Description

Person-in-Charge

Desired Response


1. Preparation of Diary Curriculum Maps (DCMS)

A document that indicates the assurance of the alignment of the Vision and Mission of the OSJ Minor Seminary with the mandates of the Department of Education during this time of crisis. This document can be a basis of the educational program of the seminary while observing the protocols of DepEd.


The Principal must prepare the document and submit the proposal to the local DepEd

Division office. The document must also be approved by the Board of Trustees of the OSJ Minor Seminary with the recommendation of the SANGKAN organization of minor seminaries.


The document must also give the assurance of giving the same quality of education to the students though in a different medium of instruction.


Preparation of Lesson Plans for the Online Classes/ Modular Lessons

The classes during this time of the quarantine will be mostly through online communication. Face to face interaction is prohibited and the seminary have decided that seminarians will stay at their homes as of the moment. This requires an amount of preparation in the side of the faculty and also of the institution.


Teachers must have the necessary preparations for online classes. This consists of the following:


1. Making lesson plans that will fit to the demands and challenges of online learning without compromise to quality education. Lessons must be brief and precise because studies show that students having their classes online have higher tendency to lack focus and get distracted. Modular lessons can be an alternative and effective way of online teaching.


2. Training on effective ways of teaching online classes which may be provided by the school or on their own initiative as part of their development as educators.


3. The school must prepare the necessary facilities for the online classes such as internet connection that can accommodate all the classes simultaneously and also the availability of the gadgets.


4. The school must introduce the program to the parents and the students for them to be knowledgeable of the system.


Seminarians must receive the necessary sources and materials for them to be prepared to take the modular classes online. They must also prepare the means for them to cope with this system of education. They must also answer a survey regarding the availability of technology and internet connection at their homes for reference of the teachers.

Admission and Enrollment of Students


The entrance examinations, interviews, deliberations, and enrolment will be using the online platform and other forms of messaging applications. The official Facebook page of the Oblates of St. Joseph Minor Seminary will always be active to entertain applicants and transferees.


The Formators will make measures on how to make a smooth flow of admissions and enrollment of seminarians. Face-to-face interaction will be limited as much as possible.

The parents need to inform the seminary for their contact details. They must also have the initiative to communicate with the seminary for details and information regarding this matter. Online or bank-to-bank transactions of payments will be utilized. Documents and other requirements must be accomplished by the parents either online or through mail.

Mode of Instruction and Schedule


The primary mode of instruction is through online classes. One of the positive things about online classes is the vast landscape of learning that the teacher can utilize such as, synchronized (live video conference) or asynchronized (recorded video class) modes of teaching. The teachers can also use different platforms such as the google classroom, zoom, hangout, messenger, and other apps. The suggested maximum number of hours of online class per subject is two hours while the remaining hour/s may be spent on performance tasks.


Teachers must be trained in using technology and the many capabilities of it. It is also important that they know the capacity and incapacity of their students regarding the mode of learning. For example, if the lesson is difficult for the students to digest in one session, the teachers may opt to make a recorded class and provide PowerPoint presentations that their students can review.


The classes will be shortened in order to avoid lack of interests by students and also to give them time for requirements and review. It is also suggested that teachers will avoid giving too many requirements for students during this time because they are practically on their own, without the presence of peers and classmates, and at the same time, it may turn out to be the burden of parents to help their son/s with the requirements.


The parents must provide the needs of their son/s in order to adapt to the challenges of online education. They must understand that this is only temporary but very beneficial to their children.


Seminarians, on their part, must also strive to do their best to study given these circumstances. The pandemic must not be a hindrance for them to learn but rather a challenge to give more effort and eagerness to study.


2. Assessment of Instruction and Response of Students

The online learning system is something new to most of us. The reality that it will play the larger part of our education system challenges us to evaluate the way that we apply this method of teaching to our schools and the accomplishment of the required competencies and performance of the students. It is suggested to have an analytical rubric design for the assessment.


The OSJ Formators and Faculty must have an assessment of the program probably in the early, mid, and final season of the formation year. After every evaluation, changes that are necessary must be taken action as well as resolutions to the issues encountered by the teachers and the students.


There must always be room for improvement especially in this new system. It is also important to assure convenience in the teaching and learning process for both teachers and students without compromising the required competencies of the subjects.


3. Quarterly Examination

Examination is one of the ways to evaluate how the students are receiving their education and the system of online learning. But examination without the presence of the teacher or instructor may lead to students cheating or misunderstanding instructions.


The quarterly examination will still be mostly done online. However, the teacher may find ways to make this more convenient to every student of his/her class. It is also important to avoid any forms of cheating and dishonesty.


Seminarians must remember that online classes still requires examination for assessment of learning. They must also take seriously their examination because it does not mean that we are in crisis, everyone can easily pass their grades without giving effort to study.


4. Mid-Year and Final Evaluation

Seminarians are given evaluation in their formation and also in their academic status. The Mid-Year evaluation serves as room for improvement, for the seminarians to have a grasp of the things they need to develop on themselves, and for the parents also to see the growth of their son/s. Final evaluation includes the deliberation and recommendation of the board of formators to the seminarians that will decide whether the seminarians is accepted or not for the next formation year.


Formators and Teachers make their evaluation of each of the seminarians based on their performance in the seminary. The intellectual aspect is only a portion of the entire rubrics of evaluating the seminarians. The greater consideration lies on the aspect of formability or the capacity of the seminarians to submit himself to the formation.


The parents and the seminarians must understand that the seminary is not just any ordinary school because its goal is to prepare these seminarians under Christian and human formation to become future pastors of the Catholic Church. The decisions made by the board of formators is always for the good and growth of the person.


5. Viewing and Distribution of Report Cards

The parents have the right to know the status of their son/s education and the new system of learning can make this more accessible for parents as they can view the grades of their son/s online. However, we must not disregard the privacy of these documents.

The principal and the faculty must prepare the grades of the students every quarter and have them sent to the parents through e-mail or any available online platform.

The parents must have a personal e-mail address in order for them to receive communications and the report cards of their son/s.


Nota Bene:


1. Parents need to provide an e-mail address, contact number (cellphone), and Facebook account. These will be necessary for communication and for them to be updated with the formation and education of their son/s. In case of any changes in any of these contact details, it is the responsibility of the parents to inform the seminary.


2. Parents will be asked to answer a survey form regarding the program. The comments and suggestions of the parents are beneficial to the improvements of the program. However, the institution has the prerogative to implement the program that it judges necessary for the seminarians especially during this time of crisis.


3. Teachers must understand that this program is new to the students and it may take some time for them to be familiar and comfortable with it. They are expected to make the adjustments in their lessons and the mode of their instruction depending on the way that the students cope with the program.


4. Requirements such as assignments, quizzes and projects must be given with regularity in order to avoid causing much burden to the parents and the students. There must also be consideration with the limited materials and area in some of the homes of the seminarians.


5. Mental health does not only mean having the right amount of knowledge or learning but it also speaks about the ability of the person to handle mental and emotional anxiety. The quarantine has caused a lot of mental and emotional stress especially to young students who are now facing many changes in their community and also in their education. Let us help everyone to face this struggle with strong faith and may we not be the cause of burden to others.






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