Flyer of International Conference for the Ongoing Formation of Priests

One thousand experts to Rome to address integral, communitarian and missionary formation of priests at the Vatican

The International Conference for the Ongoing Formation of Priests «Rekindle the gift of God that is in you» (2Tm 1:6), organized by the Dicastery for the Clergy, in collaboration with the Dicastery for Evangelization, Section for First Evangelization and the New Particular Churches and the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches, will begin on Tuesday, February 6, 2024 at the Vatican.

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(ZENIT News / Rome, 01.31.2024).- The Dicastery for the Clergy, in collaboration with the Dicastery for Evangelization, Section for the First Evangelization and New Particular Churches, and the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches, is organizing the International Conference for the Ongoing Formation of Priests from February 6 to 10. The theme of the conference is «Rekindle the gift of God that is within you» (2 Tim 1:6). In the background is the reference to the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis (cf. RFIS, Intr. 3): «The beauty of being disciples today. A unique, integral, communal, and missionary formation.»

The conference will gather more than 600 experts from all five continents, with Brazil being the most represented nation, followed by Mexico, Italy, Poland, and the Philippines. Priests, consecrated individuals, and laypeople from Iceland, Burundi, El Salvador, China, Guatemala, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, and over sixty countries will also be present.

This International Conference, aimed at diocesan, regional, and national leaders in the ongoing formation of priests, as well as experts and those interested in this field, aims to initiate a shared process with all local Churches to strengthen the ongoing formation and support of priests.

The starting point is the results of a survey sent to all Episcopal Conferences in recent months and the contributions of participants before and during the Conference, with the background of the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis, «The gift of the priestly vocation,» a foundational document on priestly formation from 2016.

The identified methodology involves each theme beginning with two or three brief presentations, followed by sharing of best practices and discussions in smaller language-based circles. With this workshop format, the conference hopes to offer a paradigmatic experience of ongoing priestly formation, increasingly conducted in a participatory and synodal style. The sessions, taking place at the Auditorium Conciliazione, are divided into five days, each dedicated to one of the dimensions indicated by the Ratio.

The conference aims to actively involve all participants, experts, and formation leaders. Each session will not only include presentations but also involve participants in small linguistic groups, where facilitators will guide the exchange of experiences and reflections on the proposed topics. The objectives include highlighting and sharing the positive aspects of current pastoral practices, strengths, urgencies, and challenges in each individual context.

The event will commence on Tuesday, February 6, with a unique training day on the introductory theme «Priests in times of change, in a synodal and missionary Church.» After the opening prayer and the introduction by the Prefects of the three promoting Dicasteries, Cardinals Lazzaro You Heung sik, Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, and Claudio Gugerotti, the conference participants will move to St. Peter’s Basilica for the Eucharistic Concelebration presided over by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, at the Altar of the Chair. In the afternoon, the sessions at the Auditorium will resume with a format repeated several times in the following days: opening prayer, session introduction, a video contribution featuring Pope Francis’ remarks on the topic, followed by presentations, personal reflection time, sharing of best practices, and discussions in groups. Tuesday afternoon will feature presentations on «Priests in times of change» by Cardinal François-Xavier Bustillo, Bishop of Ajaccio (France), and «Identity and ministry of priests in a synodal and missionary Church» by Msgr. Severino Dianich, a theologian.

The second day, on February 7, is dedicated to comprehensive formation, focusing on the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral dimensions. Specifically, the topics include «Returning to the source: men of God and the Gospel» and «Accompanying: dimensions and paths for comprehensive formation.» In the morning, there will be presentations: «Men of the Gospel: missionary disciples» by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, Emeritus President of the Pontifical Council for Culture; «Men of God, in our time: contemplatives in action,» by Mother Martha Driscoll, OCSO, Emeritus Abbess of the Cistercian Monastery of Gedono (Indonesia); «A contribution from the Eastern Churches,» by Deacon Stefano Parenti, from the Eparchy of Lungro, lecturer at the Pontifical Atheneum Sant’Anselmo. In the afternoon, there will be presentations on the «Urgency of comprehensive formation: the affective dimension» by Dr. Chiara D’Urbano, Psychologist and EMDR Psychotherapist; and «Structures and paths of comprehensive formation and prevention of abuses» by Father Hans Zollner, SJ, Director of the IADC Anthropology Institute at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

On Thursday, February 8, the focus will shift to community formation with the theme «Feeling at home»: the life of the presbytery and priestly fraternity. In the morning, at the Paul VI Audience Hall, the Conference will conclude with the Private Audience that Pope Francis will grant to all participants. In the afternoon, there will be presentations on the «Potentials and challenges of priestly life and fraternal priesthood» by Cardinal Ángel Sixto Rossi, Archbishop of Córdoba (Argentina); and «May priests feel ‘at home’: the task of the bishop and the diocesan community» by Msgr. José Romeo Juanito Lazo, Archbishop of Jaro (Philippines). The day will conclude with the screening, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM, of the film «Sacerdoce,» directed by Damien Boyer.

On Friday, February 9, the missionary formation dimension will be addressed with presentations focusing on experiencing new pastoral strategies: «Qualifying: attitudes and skills for exploring new paths in pastoral work.» In the morning, presentations will cover «The new pastoral challenges: a worldview» by Father Guy Bognon, P.S.S., Secretary-General of the Pontifical Missionary Work of St. Peter the Apostle – Dicastery for Evangelization – Section for the First Evangelization and New Particular Churches (Vatican City); and «Ways and means for the pastoral accompaniment of priests» by Msgr. Joel Portella Amado, Auxiliary Bishop of San Sebastián de Río de Janeiro (Brazil). In the late afternoon, at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, participants will take part in a special moment of spiritual elevation: the Concert-Meditation on the vocation of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul by the Choir of the Diocese of Rome and the «Fideles et Amati» Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Msgr. Marco Frisina.

On Saturday morning, February 10, there will be a moment of synthesis called «Voices from the Hall,» featuring conclusions from the three Cardinal Prefects of the promoting Dicasteries, followed by the Eucharistic Concelebration at St. Peter’s Basilica, presided over by Cardinal Lazzaro You Heung sik, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy, at the Altar of the Chair.

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