Study Week for Seminary Formators Considers Family, Psychology

Stresses Need for Excellence in Educators

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By Eduardo Torres

ROME, FEB. 14, 2012 ( The «goodness» of tomorrow’s priests will depend to a large extent on the «quality» of today’s educators, and the seminary must be the appropriate and indispensable place for priestly formation adapted to the challenges of the times, especially in a culturally globalized world.

This was among the conclusions of the second Week of Study for Formators of Seminaries, organized Feb. 6-10 by the Center of Priestly Formation of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

Among the almost 70 participants in the week’s deliberations were representatives of the curia, bishops in charge of vocations and university professors with experience in priestly formation. 

In his discussion concerning the «Discernment of Suitability for Holy Orders,» the secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, Archbishop Celso Morga, explained how the number of those leaving the priesthood can be reduced through greater reflection upon a candidate’s conditions. «Cultural mobility, social and economic expectations, and conditioning received by the family,» should be taken into account.

It is further necessary to adequately discern all of a candidate’s «internal factors.» These regard «rigidity of personality, lack of physical or psychological health, intellectual deception or disillusionment with love, drastic conversions, egoism, the fragmentation of religious formation, and lack of self-control.»

Archbishop Agostino Superbo of Potenza, vice president of the Italian conference of bishops, said that in vocational discernment it is indispensable to consider «the family and Christian community from which the candidate comes, and to be in continuous dialogue with them.» It is important to respect both this «preliminary phase» of preparation for the seminary, as well as the prudent use of «an eventual pause of period of formation» to reflect when that can help «overcome difficulties and increase maturity.»

Firm and mature

The desired characteristics of seminary formators was addressed by the Archbishop of Tacna and Moquegua in Peru, Marco Antonio Cortez Lara. He spoke about men who are «firm in the faith, with a strong priestly identity and mature personality.» They should be «secure in their own vocation, learned, prudent and wise and open to others.» In one word, they are men of «integrity,» in such a way that they are «credible for young people» and capable of attracting them «more through the witness of a joyful and authentic life, than by discipline or theoretical teaching.»

The seminary is «not a mere passing phase, but a time to prepare oneself for the priesthood,» stated the auxiliary bishop of Milan, Mauro Delpini. It is a time «to become capable of easily uniting one’s ‘life in common’ with pastoral charity and future priestly fraternity.» For this reason regulation of the seminary must be «unchanging, accepted, and shared — yet, not oppressive, since educative values are not imparted by imposition, but by convincing.»

«Loyalty, efficaciousness and joy» are results that come from a capacity to listen and work in teams, from placing value on small, ordinary things, and from a disposition to confront problems as opportunities and not as annoyances,» said Father José María La Porte, dean of the faculty of communication at Santa Croce.

At the same time, truth within relationships «is what will render every word and action a vehicle of fraternity and life in common.» In this way, a seminary will be «characterized by acts of charity» and not become «a school of mere hypocrisy dressed up as diplomacy.»

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