Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What is "the Spirituality for the Vineyard"?

Is there a spirituality--specifically, a formation and discernment process--that is particular to young adults considering pastoral and youth ministry? We think there is. This website is a place for SMU theology, pastoral and youth ministry, religious education majors and minors to learn more about how you could pray, think, and live out your discernment regarding who God is calling you to be. You cannot ignore the need for knowledge and professionalism when you are in leadership...but there are spiritual needs as well.

In order to complete what we call "The Vineyard Experience," we ask you to accomplish the following:

1. Seeing: Encounter your world. Participate in one extended cross-cultural service experience (for example, a SOUL trip or equivalent, verified in advance by your advisor), attending to and learning from the vulnerable in our human family.
2. Learning: The Vineyard Colloquia. Attend three Vineyard Colloquia an academic year, for two years. The Vineyard colloquia offer a chance to hear leaders in our area share their wisdom and experience on the challenges and opportunities of various lay ministries in the Church. There will also be a focus on the spirituality of lay ministry.
3. Exploring: Praxis for ministry: Complete the Pastoral and Youth Ministry internship (waived if you are a Theology major or minor). There are also other volunteer ministries--through SMU and in the local churches and dioceses--that students may count toward this element.
4. Clarifying: Small group support and reflection. Participate in small sharing groups, facilitated by local lay ecclesial leaders. These groups of three or four students meet monthly to share a meal and discuss how issues of life discernment and lay formation are going. Ideally, students in the major should be in one of these groups from the time they declare a major. Regular attendance is expected for at least one academic year.
5. Discerning: Prayer and retreat. Participate in one discernment retreat for majors and interested minors, usually offered in January. Students may attend their junior or senior year (or both years). A time away can help a person recognize and name their vocation, and return to classes with new questions and fresh vigor.

In addition, students in the program are encouraged to seek other methods of formation: spiritual direction, the 19th annotation of the Spiritual Exercises, regular participation in Catholic liturgical life, etc. We can point you in the right direction for all that if you wish. But the five above are a baseline.

Completion of The Vineyard Experience merits recognition of work above and beyond the academic elements of the major, and helps fulfill the spiritual formation elements of the National Standards for Lay and Ecclesial Ministries.

Explore the site or talk to one of the members of the theology department. We're excited--you should be, too!