The 2013 Directory for the Ministry and Life of Priests (Libreria Editrice Vaticana) outlines vividly the great necessity and also the pastoral effectiveness of such ongoing formation:
The priest has a constant need to deepen his formation. Even if on the day of his ordination he received the permanent seal that configured him in æternum with Christ Head and Shepherd, he is called to ongoing development in order to be more effective in his ministry. In this sense it is fundamental for priests to be aware that their formation did not come to an end during the years in the seminary. On the contrary, as of the very day of his ordination the priest must feel the need to make constant progress in order to be ever more of Christ the Lord.
GIF of priest(s) studying
As Benedict XVI has recalled: “The theme of the priestly identity […] is determinant for the exercise of the ministerial priesthood in the present and in the future” (BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Participants at the Theological Conference Organized by the Congregation for the Clergy on 12 March 2010). These words of the Holy Father constitute the point of reference upon which to base the ongoing formation of the clergy: help them to deepen what it means to be a priest.
“The priest’s fundamental relationship is to Jesus Christ, Head and Shepherd” (JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis , 16.), and in this sense ongoing formation should be a means to heighten this “exclusive” relationship that necessarily has an impact on everything a priest is and does. Ongoing formation is a requirement that begins and develops from the moment of receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders, with which the priest is not only “consecrated” by the Father, “sent” by the Son, but also “animated” by the Holy Spirit. This formation is destined to involve and progressively assimilate the entire life and activity of the priest in fidelity to the gift received: “That is why I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you” (2Tm 1:6).
This necessity is intrinsic to the divine gift itself (PDV, 70) which is to be continually ‘vivified’ so the priest may adequately respond to his vocation. In fact, as a man situated in history, he needs to perfect himself in all the aspects of his human and spiritual existence in order to attain that conformity with Christ, the unifying principle of all things.