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Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Institute for Priestly Formation?
- A Public Association of the Faithful, the Institute was founded to assist bishops in the spiritual formation of diocesan seminarians and priests in the Roman Catholic Church. The Institute operates as a Nebraska not-for-profit, responding to the need to foster spiritual formation as the integrating and governing principle of all aspects of priestly formation. Inspired by the biblical-evangelical spirituality of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, this spiritual formation has as its goal helping priests and seminarians live in intimate and unceasing union with God. In carrying out its mission, the Institute directly serves diocesan seminarians and priests as well as those who are responsible for diocesan priestly formation.
- How did the Institute develop?
- In 1992 Father John Horn, S.J., a Jesuit of the Maryland Province, directed Father Richard Gabuzda, a diocesan priest from Scranton, Pennsylvania and Kathy Kanavy, a consecrated laywoman, in a 30-day retreat (the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola). From seeds planted in their hearts through this retreat experience, the idea for a program for diocesan seminarians and priests began to emerge. The three discussed concepts and solicited assistance from Father George Aschenbrenner, S.J., who has written extensively on Ignatian spirituality. These individuals became the Institute’s four founders.
- When did the Institute for Priestly Formation begin and why?
- The Institute was founded in 1994. Its initial summer program for seminarians, in existence since 1995, began in response to the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the 1990 World Synod of Bishops’ call for a more intense period of formation for priesthood candidates. Unlike religious communities, the formation of diocesan priests does not include a “novitiate” experience, time set apart from regular studies which is meant to focus on learning how to pray and to concentrate on the particular characteristics of priestly identity and spirituality. The summer program intends to supply that needed focus. Following that initial program, IPF began offering additional programs for priests as well as those responsible for all aspects of priestly formation (bishops, vocation directors, seminary faculty, etc.).
- How does the IPF logo illustrate the heart of the mission?
- The founding graces of the IPF charism are represented in the Institute’s logo:
The blue M. Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, teaches that the most fruitful activity of the human person is to be able to receive God.
The dove, gold cross and gold beams. In her Annunciation, Mary’s active receptivity of the Holy Spirit permits Jesus and His saving activity to enter the world, expressed especially in his cross, which radiates the glory of the Father. By way of her “yes,” Divine Love became incarnate in time. Now, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, all have access to the intimate love of the Trinity.
Participation in this Trinitarian love is our salvation. Christ wills that we all come to share in the knowledge that He possesses of the Father’s great love, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). By surrendering in faith to the Father’s love for us and leaving sin behind, we can come to share in the intimacy Christ has with the Father as His adopted sons and daughters. This faith, however, cannot remain inert or simply a comforting idea; it carries the power to awaken each heart to live a dynamic interior life. Christ told us that He came to bring us life and life abundant! (John 10:10). This awakening of the heart is ours to know, if we look to Mary. She is our teacher in how to receive God within, our teacher in how to live the abundant life of Trinitarian love.
- Why is Our Lady of Guadalupe the Patroness of IPF?
- Our Lady of Guadalupe serves as a patroness of IPF because her traditional image, based on her appearance to Saint Juan Diego, depicts her as a woman with child. This puts us in mind of the event of the Annunciation when Mary consented to be the mother of God and when she “conceived by the Holy Spirit.” All of IPF’s programs teach seminarians and priests how to receive the Holy Spirit in imitation of Mary.
- Who may share in IPF’s mission and spirituality? Does the Laity have a role?
- IPF welcomes the laity to join us in our mission. There are three primary ways you can get involved.
Prayer. Each summer, we ask for Spiritual Moms/Spiritual Dads to adopt a seminarian, priest, or faculty member that they pray for throughout our summer programs. These prayers create a “dome of grace” which has led to amazing transformations for our program participants. For those who pray during the rest of the year, the Institute deeply desires to surround itself with an army of intercessors. Join us in prayer!
Volunteer. If you have a special gift or a special heart that desires to give to the mission of IPF, we would love your help. If you are close to our offices in Omaha, you can volunteer an hour or two of your time assisting our year-round office staff. If you feel called to volunteer but do not live close to our offices, you can assist with special projects. Let us know if God is calling you to serve your future priests! Email Tina and learn more about volunteering at IPF.
Donate. IPF is a self-sustaining entity that finances its programs and staff from tuition and fees for its programs, private philanthropy, foundation grants, and the generous support of the laity. Like so many education entities, IPF cannot cover all the expenses of its ministry though tuition and fees. Your donations help to keep our programs running and let us know how important our mission of solid spiritual formation of priests and seminarians is for the laity. We need your help. Learn more about donation options here.
- Is IPF part of the Archdiocese of Omaha?
- The Institute for Priestly Formation is a separately incorporated entity organized under the laws of the State of Nebraska. Although, as a Public Association of the Faithful, it is under the guidance of the local Archbishop, it receives no financial support from nor does it have financial obligations to the Archdiocese of Omaha.