South African Prelate Establishes Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Cape Town (Part 1)

Archbishop Stephen Breslin Speaks on Forming a ‘New Clergy’ for a New Evangelization

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By Salvatore Cernuzio and Junno Arocho

ROME, NOV. 19, 2012 ( The Catholic Church, in the face of growing secularism, has called for a new evangelization focused on conversion within the Church. Among the many tools that the Holy Spirit is giving the Church for this endeavor are the new movements and ecclesial realities.

One of these, the Neocatechumenal Way, was founded more than 40 years ago, by Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández. Since its beginnings in the small shanty towns of Madrid, thousands have discovered the richness of the Catholic faith through this charism. Among the many fruits that the ecclesial reality has fostered are the Redemptoris Mater Seminaries, diocesan missionary seminaries that aid in accomplishing the Church’s call for a new evangelization.

According to a communique released by the Archdiocese of Cape Town, «these international seminaries are not seminaries that belong to the Neocatechumenal Way, since the Way is not a religious order nor has clergy of its own.  All the Redemptoris Mater seminaries are fully diocesan seminaries, whose seminarians have arrived at their vocation as result of their Neocatechumenal path and the rediscovery of their baptism as lived through small Neocatechumenal communities.» 

«The seminaries thus formed are also called ‘international’ and ‘Missionary’ since their seminarian vocations come from all parts of the world, and the Redemptoris Mater priests, once formed and ordained in the diocese and having served for some years in the Archdiocese they are ready to travel to other dioceses, to serve the Church wherever necessary.»

This year alone, 10 new Redemptoris Mater seminaries have been opened, bringing the total number of these seminaries worldwide to 95.

Archbishop Stephen Breslin of Cape Town, South Africa, was in Rome this week to sign the decree establishing the diocesan missionary seminary in his diocese. The seminary statutes were signed during a Eucharistic celebration presided over by the archbishop and his vicar general, and held in the grotto of Saint Peter’s Basilica, in the Lithuanian Chapel, at the feet of the effigy of our Lady of the Gate of Dawn, Mother of Mercy.

In his homily, the archbishop of Cape Town referred to the student protests taking place in Rome that very day, and which he had involuntarily witnessed along the streets that brought him to Vatican City.  «Unfortunately these days,” he said, “a great anger grows, too often involving the young.  It is a phenomenon that we are witnessing in South Africa as well.  This anger is a symptom of a great thirst, a thirst for truth; a thirst that shows a great desire to comprehend, in order to give a full sense to life. We know that the sole answer to this thirst lies in the person of Jesus Christ, who died and rose again.”

Archbishop Breslin spoke with ZENIT on the significance of the Redemptoris Mater in Cape Town and its role in the new evangelization.

Part 2 of this interview will be published Tuesday.

ZENIT: We hear that you will be opening a Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Cape Town? Why is this significant?

Archbishop Breslin: We’ve had Neocatechumenal communities in Cape Town for more than 25 years now. And I believe that this is a logical growth and step [not only] for the Neocatechumenal Way but also for the growth of the Church in Cape Town itself. And it is a way of connecting ourselves to the call first made by Blessed Pope John Paul II for the new evangelization and that we contribute to the worldwide movement of continuing to bring Christ to people and to lead people to have an encounter with Jesus Christ.

ZENIT: This recent Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization had a particular focus on the role of movements in the Church. How do you see this new seminary fostering that and the call to conversion that Pope Benedict XVI made during the synod?

Archbishop Breslin: Regretfully, I wasn’t at the synod; I would have loved to have been a participant. But we’ve had a very good report back from our delegates from South Africa and I think that the Neocatechumenal Way contributes, in this sense, with the seminary that we are intending to open. The priests, first of all, come from an international setting, different countries in the world and they contribute to the life of the Church in Cape Town, but they are [also] missionary diocesan priests who, after serving a certain amount of time in the Archdiocese of Cape Town, will be sent out to different parts of the world. Either where Christ has never been proclaimed or elsewhere, where there is a need to re-call people to their Christian foundation and their Christian origins.

ZENIT: A part of the text within the decree establishing the seminary included words from Pope Benedict’s message from the Synod of Bishops. Could you expand on that and its significance?

Archbishop Breslin: Yes, certainly. Because in terms of the new evangelization, the missionary nature of the Church continues to bring Christ to people who have never heard of Christ and to cultures that have never heard of Christ. And that is the traditional missionary role of the Church, of going out to all peoples, to teach and to proclaim Jesus Christ. But in a secularized world, many people who know about Jesus Christ and perhaps were Christian have drifted away from their faith, or have become very apathetic to their faith. So it’s not so much that they don’t believe in Christ, but they have become indifferent, and they have become indifferent to leading a Christian life. And therefore, the first [elements] of the faith need to be rekindled in their hearts and they need help to come to an encounter with Jesus Christ. And I think that is what the Pope is trying to say is that this is a very important part of the new evangelization, it’s not just taking Christ to cultures that have never heard of Christ, but it is trying to proclaim Christ in cultures that have become very secularized, very materialistic, and that have become totally indifferent to the presence of God and to the presence of Jesus Christ.

ZENIT: How can the movements help in this mission?

Archbishop Breslin: I think Blessed Pope John Paul II put it very well that the role of Evangelization is the role of all baptized people. And perhaps in the Church we have become a little bit too…[pause] with the understanding that the evangelization belongs to the bishops, the priests and religious, but the fact of the matter is that all people are meant to be evangelizing at the various different sectors that were mentioned in the synod as well. So to evangelize culture, to evangelize the economy, to evangelize people at various different levels, and that we are all meant to be the bearers of Jesus Christ, taking Christ to people, and certainly this is not limited to priests and religious. It is the role of each and every baptized person. I think the great advantage of the movements is that they are motivating lay people particularly, in order to be bearers of the message, the good news and to take that into the various sectors of society.

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Part 2 of this interview, on the new seminary’s role in the New Evangelization, will be published Tuesday.

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