What is this?

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, and Educational Studies 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 and human 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 the Vineyard Colloquia offered within 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.  The Vineyard Colloquium speaker for Spring 2013 will be announced very soon.
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: Spiritual direction and/or small group support. As of 2013, we are encouraging students to take advantage of opportunities for spiritual direction.  The list of spiritual directors available to you is in campus ministry (and its possible you may find a director through other sources).  If we have enough interest, we could create small sharing groups. 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. Regular attendance (spiritual direction or a small group) is expected for at least one academic year.
5. Discerning: Prayer and retreat. Participate in one discernment retreat for majors and interested minors. Students may attend their junior or senior year (or both years). We have created these retreats or students in the past and could again; at this point we are pointing students toward discernment retreats available in the Upper Midwest region.  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. 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 and human formation elements of the National Standards for Lay and Ecclesial Ministries.  It is important to be able to show future church employers that you have attended to the developmental areas noted n the standards: even if your diocese does not requires them yet, presenting that you know them and take lay ecclesial formation seriously can only be a good in an increasingly tight job market.  Completion may be mentioned on your resume cover letter and be noted in professor's recommendations.  Please talk to your advisor or Dr. Windley-Daoust about this.

Explore the site or talk to one of the members of the theology department. We're excited--you hope you will be as well.