Developing Men of Character, Educating Effective Priests, Forming Pastoral Leaders, & Nurturing an Apostolic Spirit.
The Sulpician Ethos of Priestly Formation
The Five Marks of a Sulpician Seminary
The current ethos of Sulpician priestly formation is closely related to its Sulpician foundation. Since the middle of the 17th century, the Sulpician tradition of priestly formation has included five essential elements. Throughout its long history, The Society of the Priests of St. Sulpice has retained its distinctive Sulpician character and its central focus on priestly formation.
At the beginning of the 21st century, Sulpicians continue to recognize that these elements are still crucial for effective formation in priestly life and ministry. These marks, these elements, currently more sharply focused, retain the essential values found so praiseworthy by bishops and peers. The Sulpician charism embodies: a commitment to ministerial priesthood; the cultivation of an apostolic spirit; an emphasis on spiritual formation; the creation of a formational community; and the exercise of collegiality.
A commitment to ministerial priesthood
Sulpicians are known for their firm conviction about the importance of the priesthood in the Church and for their clear focus on priestly formation. We recognize that this traditional emphasis is critical both for the future of the Church and for the future of society.
The cultivation of an apostolic spirit
The Sulpician tradition forms priests who themselves have a strong sense of mission imbued with the apostolic spirit of Christ. Responding to the needs of the Church today, we continue to encourage those in formation to develop zeal for evangelization and a love for pastoral service.
An emphasis on spiritual formation
The first generation of Sulpicians stressed the progressive initiation of each seminarian into the spiritual life through personal prayer and spiritual direction. We recognize that mere professionalism will not substitute for personal commitment to Christ and a strong life of prayer.
The creation of a formational community
As a privileged context for priestly formation, the early Sulpicians advocated the creation of a formational community "une communauté éducatrice" where they could model priesthood effectively and come to know better those in formation. We reaffirm the importance of personal presence and effective witness to those in formation, not only in the classroom, but also in prayer and in community life.
The exercise of collegiality
Sulpicians have stressed to an unusual degree that priestly formation is a collegial enterprise. We consider collegiality crucial for providing effective leadership, for maintaining a strong and unified program and for modeling collaboration in ministry.The mission of the Sulpicians—the initial and ongoing formation of priests—is as urgent and timely today as it was in 1641. There continues to be widespread need for quality preparation for seminarians and deeper spirituality in the priesthood.
Seminarians and priests worldwide seek the formation and guidance the Sulpicians provide. Today, the International Community of Sulpicians direct seminaries on five continents.
Did You Know?
The co-founders of Maryknoll, The Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, Fathers James Anthony Walsh and Thomas E. Price, were alumni of Sulpician seminaries. Fr. Walsh, ordained 1892, studied at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts; Fr. Price, ordained 1886, studied at both St. Charles College in Ellicott City, Maryland, and at St. Mary’s, Paca Street, in Baltimore.