Center for Ongoing Formation: A Ministry Continued, A Vision Renewed


 St.Pat18The Saint Patrick’s Center for Ongoing Priestly Formation operates under the auspices of Saint Patrick’sSeminary and University. It has its roots in the Vatican II Institute, originally established as a program for the spiritual, pastoral, and intellectual renewal of priests. In May of 2013 the Board of Trustees of SPSU voted to change the name of the Vatican II Institute in order to better reflect its current mission as a Center for Ongoing Formation.
 The Vatican II Institute derived its name from its original purpose. The Institute was envisioned and designed in the early 1970s by its founder, Father Dan Danielson (Diocese of Oakland), in conversation with other pastors in the Bay Area and with bishops of the region. The Vatican II Institute began in 1973 as a three-month renewal program to assist priests of Region XI (dioceses of California, Nevada, Utah, and Hawaii) to appropriate and integrate the teachings of the Second Vatican Council into their selfunderstanding and ministry as priests. From its inception, the program carried out this renewal within a holistic framework, seeking to support and encourage the human, spiritual, pastoral and intellectual renewal of its participants.
Although the original vision anticipated only two to four sessions, the Vatican II Institute continued
through a 33rd year. Over time the program easily evolved into a sabbatical program for priests, both diocesan and religious. The sabbatical program, which lasted for 64 sessions, welcomed over 2,000 priests (and a few bishops) from all parts of the United States and the English-speaking world. Sulpician priests served as director of the program from 1975 to 2012 (Father Gene Konkel, 1975-2001, Father Mel Blanchette, 2002-2004, and Father Jim Myers, 2004 to 2012).
The Vatican II Institute experienced a decline in enrollment in recent years, much like other sabbatical programs. Decreasing numbers of priests, increasing challenges in arranging parish coverage, as well as financial constraints in many dioceses and religious communities all contributed to the enrollment declines. As a result, the Vatican II Institute sabbatical program closed in 2012.
The decision to no longer offer a sabbatical program arose not only from declining enrollment, but also in response to a surge of interest in other areas of ongoing formation among the dioceses of our region. The sabbatical program that evolved into the Vatican II Institute for Clergy Formation took shape in response to the immediate needs of the region in the early 1970s. A similar spirit is alive today in the Saint Patrick’s Center for Ongoing Priestly Formation where new programs are being crafted and older programs redesigned in order to respond to the present needs of our diocesan clergy.