The Lay Spiritual Formation Program is intended to facilitate discernment of gifts and to foster spiritual, moral, and professional development. The primary context for this formative development is the collaborative environment of the Aquinas faith community, but personal and ministerial settings also serve to foster students’ personal and spiritual growth. While Aquinas Institute provides the environment and resources for spiritual formation, the student bears primary responsibility for his or her spiritual formation.
Participation in the Lay Spiritual Formation Program is required of all lay students enrolled in a first professional degree program; i.e., MAPS, M.Div., MAPM, MAHCM. Members of religious communities are normally exempted from this requirement because they are required to participate in formation programs sponsored by their congregations or provinces.
Holistic Spiritual Formation
The Aquinas Institute Lay Spiritual Formation Program has four basic elements:
- Spiritual and Psychological Assessment: The psychological and spiritual assessment takes place during the second semester of the formation program. When the student requests admission to program, the Lay Spiritual Formation Director makes a recommendation to the faculty about the candidate’s overall suitability for ministry.
- Establishment of Personal and Spiritual Formation Goals: Students who seek admission to program will develop personal and spiritual formation goals in consultation with the Lay Spiritual Formation Director. The student shares these formation goals with his or her academic adviser, who will help the student develop an academic and pastoral program that will assure the achievement of these goals.
- Lay Spiritual Formation Seminar: The Lay Spiritual Formation Seminar is the heart of the Lay Spiritual Formation Program. These peer groups of 5-8 students meet five times a semester and are directed by a qualified leader. Participation in the Lay Spiritual Formation Seminar earns one formation credit per semester. Students in the Master of Divinity program must participate in the Lay Spiritual Formation program for six semesters; students in the Master of Arts of Pastoral Studies program must participate in the Lay Spiritual Formation program for four semesters. Students must register for Lay Spiritual Formation Seminar each semester and are charged a special rate. This fee includes the cost of the psychological and spiritual assessment.
- Days of Prayer and Reflection: Days of prayer and reflection are offered during each semester to nurture the deepening of personal faith and the integration of psychological and spiritual growth.