Lay Spiritual Formation

 Lay persons who devote themselves permanently or temporarily to some
special service of the Church are obliged to acquire the appropriate formation
required to fulfill their function properly. (CIC, canon 231 and 235)

The four areas of formation that provide the framework for the formation of deacons and priests provide a framework for lay ministers as well:

Human - seeks to develop the minister’s qualities and character, fostering a healthy and well-balanced personality, for the sake of both personal growth and ministerial service.

Spiritual - aims to arouse and animate true hunger for holiness, desire for union with the Father through Christ in the Spirit, daily growing in love of God and neighbor in life and ministry, and the practices of prayer and spirituality that foster these attitudes and dispositions. Openness to this ongoing conversion is a prerequisite for fruitful spiritual formation.

Intellectual - seeks to develop the lay minister’s understanding and appreciation of the Catholic faith, which is rooted in God’s revelation and embodied in the living tradition of the Church.

Pastoral - cultivates the knowledge, attitudes and skills that directly pertain to effective functioning in the ministry setting and that also pertain to pastoral administration that supports direct ministry.

USCCB Committee on the Laity, Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord: A Resource for Guiding the Development of Lay Ecclesial Ministry, Washington D.C., 2005.


All formation is ultimately self-formation,
and lay ministers themselves are the pivotal agents of their own formation,
called to nurture a deep and powerful hunger for formation, willingness to learn and grow, and desire to serve the Lord with excellence and generosity.

~John Paul II, The Vocation of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World (Christefideles Laici)~

Methods and Process:

Small communities of four to eight students

  • On campus students meet once a week for 10 weeks, and for a semester day of reflection.
  • Hybrid students meet every other week online and face-to-face during the semester retreat.

These meetings include student-led prayer and reflection, discussion and sharing on various assigned readings and activities.

Fostering of self-reflection and self-awareness by reading and reflecting on the assigned articles/chapters on a weekly basis . This is a means of surfacing what is evoked and the personal/spiritual impact of the assigned readings.

Assessment Process: Spiritual and developmental histories and psychological assessments are completed by each student during the first year of the formation program, prior to any participation in Supervised Practice of Ministry and the student’s application for Admission to Candidacy, as a means of assessing readiness and overall suitability for ministry.

Establishment of Personal and Spiritual Formation Goals for ongoing integration and growth. Goals are reviewed and self-evaluated each semester for growth and progress.

Meeting with Formation Director at least once each semester to discuss goals, progress, and any issues or concerns that need to be addressed.


Program Requirements - Must be taken in sequence

Formation Unit Offered
I. Spiritual Maturity and Self-Awareness Fall Semesters
II. Personal Giftedness for Ministry Spring Semesters
III. The Process of Discernment Fall Semesters
IV. Choices and Challenges in Ministry Spring Semesters






 Prayer Resources

From 1949 through 1992, the Dominican province of St. Albert the Great, USA, Aquinas Institute’s sponsor, published Spirituality Today, a quarterly journal of spirituality in the Dominican tradition. A renewed form of this journal of spirituality — found only on the internet — is in production. In the meantime, take time to read selections from the archives.

Creighton University hosts an online retreat you may enjoy.