The ISS offers several options for renewal, ongoing formation, and theological updating for priests, consecrated religious, as well as laypersons. There are two standard program lengths: 10 month, as well as a 4 month (90 days depending on visa).
- Spiritual Growth: “Salesian prayer is joyful and creative, simple and profound. It lends itself to community participation, is drawn from life experience and flows back into it” (Salesian Constitutions Article 86). Based on the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales & St. John Bosco, these renewal programs aim at encouraging the heart to grow in union with the Lord through a spirituality of accompaniment. Participants have the opportunity to join the Salesian Religious community for daily prayers and mass, weekly lectio divina, daily “Good-Night” reflections, regular spiritual direction, monthly evenings of recollection, one-day community retreats (4 times per year), and the ability to go on a personal retreat at another local facility. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is also readily available, as well as encouraged.
- Human Development: A central element to the program is community life. St Paul exhorts us: “Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other” (1 Col 3:12-13). The family spirit is the hallmark of the Salesian community and inspires every moment of its life: work and prayer, meals and recreation, meetings and other encounters. In addition to daily community life, participants have several opportunities for personal and communal outings to places such as San Francisco, Napa Valley, Monterey, Lake Tahoe and Yosemite.
- Intellectual Formation: Life-long learning is essential to an integrated spiritual life. Blessed John Paul II wrote, “Intellectual formation . . . is a fundamental demand of man’s intelligence by which he ‘participates in the light of God’s mind’ and seeks to acquire a wisdom which in turn opens to, and is directed towards, knowing and adhering to God” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 51, citing Gaudium et spes, no. 15). Therefore, parts of the Salesian curriculum are a central element to the renewal program. Participants are required to take at least 2 classes, and may take up to 4 classes, should they desire to obtain a Salesian Certificate of Theological Studies.
- Pastoral Integration: “Abide in my love… This is my commandment: love one another as I love you” (Jn 15:12,17). With the combination of spiritual renewal, intellectual stimulation, and relational nourishment, participants are eager to launch full-throttle back into ministry with a new-found zeal for all they have integrated.