Spiritual Formation: The Hallmark Of Priesthood (1)





THE formation of priests is now considered as one of the most demanding and important tasks for the future evangelisation of humanity. Any church denomination that wants to get it right should not overlook this. Remember, it is believed and rightly, too that a well formed pastor will impact positively on the spiritual wellbeing and growth of a given church congregation. More so, as ‘God will not use a drift wood for sacrifice’. He is always interested in those whom He will form for His service. He says: ‘I will give you shepherds after my own heart’ Jer. 3:15. Notice, not anyhow person, but shepherds (pastors) that are well formed.

  In this discourse, it is important to highlight these four areas of attention in the spiritual formation of priests.

  • Spiritual formation
  • Intellectual formation
  • Pastoral formation
  • Human formation


  The spiritual formation of every priest is the core, which unifies and gives life to his being a priest and his acting as a priest. Those that are to take on the likeness of Christ, as priests by sacred ordination, should form the habit of drawing close to Him as friends in every detail of their lives. They should be taught to seek Christ in faithful meditation on the word of God and in prayer. The Markan gospel illustrates Jesus’ deep interest in the formation of His disciples: ‘And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those whom He desired and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, to be with Him and to be sent out to preach and have authority to cast out demons’ Mk 3:13-15. Notice, those whom He desired (with intention to form) before He could now send them forth into the harvest fields.

  We have two great weapons in the spiritual formation of the priest: THE WORD and PRAYER. These two should not elude the would-be priest during his theological studies in our colleges/seminaries and even after training in such schools/colleges; these should still be a continuum.

  Jesus was a student of the Bible. During His temptation, it came handy to Him. Remember, the devil did say: ‘if you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. But He answered, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ (Deut. 8:3) Again, the tempter said ‘if you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, He will command His angels concerning you and on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, ‘you shall not put the Lord your God to the test’ (Deut. 6:16). Finally, the tempter said ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’ (Deut. 6:13). Why did the devil indulge in copious quotation of the Bible? Possibly, he was hiding under it in order to make Jesus compromise His stand. But thanks to God, Jesus was able to ward him off being a student of the Bible. Impliedly, no priest can go far today without being a serious student of the Bible. If he knows the word, people will be drawn to him to hear the undiluted word of God. Remember, the congregation is hungry for the raw word of God; they are tired of ‘ecclesiastical debris’. If a congregation is booming and another beside is not, check out, the booming Church, it may be worded. Read these: Mal. 2:7; Josh. 1:8; 2 Tim 2:15.

Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,
Delta State

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