The Formation Process
The formation process is a six-year programme consisting of two years of studies in philosophy and four years of studies in theology. The seminarian take a one-year break after completing their studies in philosophy and go for practical training to their respective dioceses and congregations. Sacred Heart Seminary offers an integral formation encompassing the spiritual,intellectual, human, social, and pastoral dimensions of priestly commitment. Our singular intention and purpose is to enable students acquire a deep sense of prayer and a spirit of gratitude for the gift of their calling and to dedicate their lives completely to the People of God.
The seminary admits seminarians from the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore as wellas from other dioceses in the states of Tamilnadu, Kerala, Telangana and Seemandhra study at our seminary. Seminarians from different religious congregations and other rites are also admitted.
The Human Dimension
Pope John Paul II in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Pastores Dabo Vobis, affirms that priestly formation begins with human formation, since,The whole work of priestly formation would be deprived of its necessary foundation if it lacked a suitable human formation(PDV 43). Human Formation aims at enabling a seminarian to acknowledge that he is a "Carrier of the Divine" since every human person is created in the "Image and Likeness of God". Human formation encourages the seminarian to interiorise the values of the Gospel, inspires him to open his heart to constant conversion and to take up ownership for his formation. Human formation, in the final analysis, empowers the seminarians to mature in freedom and responsibility
The Spiritual Dimension
A priest is called to be a person rooted in God experience and intimately connected to the people entrusted to his pastoral care. Therefore, various programmes, like monthly recollections and annual retreats are organized to facilitate the deepening of the spiritual orientation of the seminarians. The seminarians are also encouraged to personalize the Word of God and to interiorise the values of the Gospel. Seminarians are also exhorted to live a simple life style that would be compatible with their calling to be disciples of Jesus.
The Intellectual Dimension
Intellectual formation deepens our faith experience as we endeavour to relate concrete realities to the studies in philosophy and theology. The academic enterprise, therefore, is oriented towards promoting the intellectual quest in the seminarians, as well as encouraging them to critically reflect about their context through symposia, seminars, endowment lectures, philosophical and theological reflections. The quest and the critical reflection enable the seminarians to evolve pastoral strategies that would make priestly ministry relevant and meaningful. One of the striking features of this institution is the functioning of the academic council, which comprises the staff and students. The Academic Council is convened twice a year department-wise to discuss issues and concerns that relate to the intellectual formation of the students. The library plays a pivotal role in the study of philosophy and theology. We are proud to share with you that our library has in store more than 50,000 books, and subscribes to more than 200 national - international periodicals and journals. The systematic classification and computerisation of books and articles facilitate an effective use of the library.
The Pastoral Dimension
Our seminary, ever since its inception, is renowned for its pastoral orientation, providing ample opportunities for the seminarians to remain connected with the people and to get a first-hand experience of the ground realities. The youth ministry organized by the department of philosophy focuses on animating the youth in the surrounding villages. The first year students of theology engage in team ministry and provide pastoral service to the people in the villages surrounding the seminary. The second year students of theology also engage in team ministry, but they go to very remote villages and work in the sub-stations. The third and fourth year students of theology are involved in pastoral ministry in different parishes of the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore and the Diocese of Chingleput.
On the pastoral level, we initiated a programme for the students of the second year of theology. They were divided into small groups of four each and were sent to the most remote villages in the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore and the Diocese of Chingleput. The intention was to provide students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the real struggles of the people and to integrate their experiences with their theological studies.
Inter-Religious and Ecumenical Dialogue
Inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue is an integral part of our ministry, especially in the multi-cultural and religious context of our country. The third year students of theology were engaged in contacting the leaders and communities of different religious traditions. This experience deepened their Christian faith, and promoted openness and sensitivity to the other religious traditions.
Theological Formation for the Laity
The importance of the role of the laity is realised in the recent decades of the Church’s history. In view of this new awakening, various formation programmes are being conducted at various levels, especially in the Church in Tamilnadu. A two-year Diploma Course in Theology for the laity has been initiated at Sacred Heart Seminary since 2008. This programme not only provides scope for theological studies for the laity but also encourages them to become aware of their mission and participation in the Church. In the previous academic year 2013-2014, twenty-eight students were awarded Diploma in Theology.
Fr. Thomas Empowerment Lectures
Fr. Thomas Joseph is the senior-most priest of the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore who serves the seminary in his capacity as Spiritual Director and Confessor. He has committed himself for the cause of the marginalized labourers and has been a pioneer in promoting the cause of the Christian Workers. As a mark of honouring the dedicated services of Fr. Thomas Joseph, we are initiating Fr. Thomas Joseph: The Laity Empowerment Lectures.