Seminary Educators Gather at Pontifical University

Consider Their Crucial Role in Preparing God’s Servants

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By Salvatore Cernuzio

ROME, FEB. 8, 2012 ( «You do not become a priest on your own,» said Benedict XVI in his letter to seminarians, dated Oct. 18, 2010.

Taking up the Holy Father’s message, the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross collaborated with the Center of Priestly Formation in organizing a second edition of a Week of Study for Seminary Formators. The course began Monday and ends Friday.

On Monday, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, introduced the day’s activities, dedicated to the figure of the Rector. He was followed by Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, who spoke on «Authority as Ecclesial Service.»

Focusing attention on the characteristics of ecclesiastical ministry, he remarked how, in presenting the structure of the Church, the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out in particular four aspects «that distinguish it from other forms of exercise of the public function in other societies: sacramentalism, diakonia, collegiality and personal character.»

Characteristics, the bishop reminded, that are added to the three delineating ones of the Pontiff’s teaching on «living the ecclesiastical ministry as a service,» namely, «fidelity, prudence, goodness,» following the example, proposed by the Pope on the feast of Epiphany, of the Wise Men of the East as «signs that must guide the responsibility of a Pastor.»

Later on in the morning Archbishop Paolo Rabitti of Ferrara, spoke on «The Rector’s Function of Government.» He described «the ecclesial personality of the Rector» who, according to Scripture, should be above all «a man of God, hence, complete — or corresponding perfectly to the needs and ‘equipped’ for the task.»

«Only great men can form other great men: in past times the education of priests was conducted by the older men that the Church had,» he added, quoting Rosmini’s work «Of the Five Wounds of the Holy Church.»

Heart of Christ

On Tuesday participants centered on the topic «The Team of Formators.» Bishop Marco Antonio Cortez Lara of Tacna and Moquegua in Peru, said that «it is of fundamental importance for the local Churches to be able to count on mature diocesan seminaries equipped with a team of formators to the measure of the Heart of Christ, the Good Shepherd.»

Bishop Lara presented this reflection from two points of view: the «personal experience of rectors and formators for over 16 years» and the fundamental commitment «to obtain formators that are adequate for the needs of the Church.»

«It is necessary that all priests called to undertake the delicate mandate of formator let themselves be accompanied by the Holy Spirit of God, who guides and orients the Church,» he said.

«My personal experience has enabled me to verify in Peru and in other Latin American countries, how ‘charisms’ of all and for all have flowed from a solid formative project: for the seminary, for the parishes, for those with special tasks such as chaplains who work in hospitals.»

«The objective is a priest who incarnates in his life all that he teaches at the theoretical level. What is asked of formators today, is what Jesus asked of his Apostles: ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ One cannot be a fisherman if one is not first a true disciple of Jesus; only thus can one become a true and authentic witness,» he concluded.

The day of study ended with the intervention of the Reverend Jose Marie La Porte, a teacher at the University of the Holy Cross, who focused on «Communication and Coordination Between Formators.» Among the themes he dealt with was the communicative flow between the seminary and the diocese; communication within the seminary and the bond of possible future candidates with the seminary, also after ordination.

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