The priesthood, like secular professions, requires preparation for the duties required, he wrote. In the Catholic Church today, this takes the form of training and formation within seminaries, but priests were not always prepared in this way.
"While the formation of the clergy in the early Church took the form of an apprenticeship, it grew to include more education at the monasteries and cathedral schools in the Middle Ages," Olmsted noted.
"Then, at the Council of Trent in the mid-16th century, the Church called for seminary houses where men would be instructed especially in philosophy and theology in order to serve well as priests."
St. Pope Paul VI, in the 1965 Vatican II document Optatum Totius, called for a "program of priestly training" be set up in each country under the purview of the country's bishops' conference, and that young men be trained "in such a way that the students might learn to live in an intimate and unceasing union with the Father through His Son Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit."
St. Paul VI and St. John Paul II developed these ideas, Olmsted wrote, as they later called for synods on the priesthood. John Paul II issued the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis in 1992, which Olmsted said lays out the four pillars of formation for the priesthood.
These four pillars include: human formation- the augmentation of the men's personalities and moral character to help them grow in virtue; spiritual formation- helping the men to experience God's grace through the liturgy, Scripture, the Sacraments and prayer; intellectual formation- acquiring knowledge about Jesus and preparing the men for the teaching office of the priesthood; and finally pastoral formation- compassionately engaging in service to others within parishes, hospitals, schools, prisons, etc.