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 | By Father Greg Gerhart | Guest Columnist

12 men enter formation for the priesthood

This summer the Diocese of Austin welcomed 12 men as new seminarians. After a year in which the diocese did not celebrate a priestly vocation and after the prayers of so many went up to God for more laborers in the harvest of souls (Mt 9:38), the Lord answered by giving us the largest incoming class of seminarians in recent history — thanks be to God!

These men join the first class of seminarians to begin priestly formation with a Propaedeutic Stage, which is part of the new vision articulated by Pope Francis in “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” a document that governs the process of priestly formation throughout the world.

The word propaedeutic means to teach beforehand; the propaedeutic stage is a preparatory stage that focuses on human and spiritual formation, which is the foundation and heart of priestly formation. With a solid foundation of virtue and with hearts on fire for the love of God, the men who complete the propaedeutic stage will be able to engage more fruitfully in the academic studies of philosophy and theology that follow.

The 12 new seminarians for the Diocese of Austin began their propaedeutic stage with a new seminarian orientation; a four-week program that included classes on virtue, prayer and liturgy; the spiritual exercise of a five-day silent retreat; and many excursions to parishes throughout the diocese. Now these men are in seminary, where their formation remains focused on virtue and prayer. The community life, the classes on Scripture and Catechism, and the counsel they receive from formators and spiritual directors will provide the foundation and the heart necessary to be good.

While they are in seminary and throughout their priestly formation, please keep them in your prayers. At this time every year, each parish receives seminarian prayer calendars that offer the prayer below. If your parish needs more, call the Vocations Office. May this new vision for priestly formation bear great fruit in the lives of these men and those that they will serve as priests. Let us pray:

Jesus, our great High Priest, I thank you for the gift of your priesthood in the Church, and I pray for all priests and those in formation for the priesthood. Fill them with the joy of your Holy Spirit as they follow you, the Good Shepherd, giving their lives daily for those you have called them to serve.

Let your love fill and satisfy their hearts as you lead them more deeply into the mystery of your own self-gift. Make them ardent yet gentle heralds of the Gospel and tender ministers of your mercy, especially toward those most in need of it. Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, make their hearts more like yours! Amen.

Father Greg Gerhart serves as director of Vocations for the Diocese of Austin. For more information about Vocations in the Catholic Spirit, visit

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