ROME, JULY 20, 2001 (Zenit.org).- School ends in June for most seminarians. But not for the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.
Its activities continue during the summer — and not just for students.
Recently, for instance, it hosted a week of reflection for 160 of the Church´s newest bishops. The speakers list was a “who´s who” of the Roman Curia and world´s episcopates, among them: Cardinals Joseph Ratzinger, Angelo Sodano, Jan Pieter Schotte, Darío Castrillón Hoyos, Anthony Bevilacqua, Alfonso López Trujillo and Jean-Marie Lustiger. The meeting, with the motto “Pilgrimage to the Tomb of St. Peter,” was organized by the Vatican Congregation for Bishops.
Following the bishops´ meeting, the athenaeum began a specialized course, Pedagogy of Consecrated Life, aimed at religious formators. And in the north of Italy, the school promoted the yearly International Course for Seminary Teachers.
“Our athenaeum attempts to be present in current ecclesial life, hoping to be a crossroads for different ecclesiastical realms and for contemporary society — bishops, consecrated individuals, seminary teachers,” said Father Paolo Scarafoni, the rector. “Our objective is to collaborate in the plan for the new evangelization, so dear to John Paul II.”
The athenaeum is the university institution directed by the Legionaries of Christ.
Its course on Pedagogy of Consecrated Life — aimed at those responsible for religious orders — offered theological, pastoral and spiritual assistance for the formation of healthy, balanced religious communities.
Father Juan Carlos Ortega, director of the Institute of Religious Sciences, and one of the course´s promoters and speakers, said, “The idea of the course was born from a consultation with 150 general superiors. We discovered the need for more solid formation for consecrated people, especially now when there are signs of a spring of new vocations.”
Father Ortega explained: “Many have asked us to organize a summer course because, during the year, [those in charge of formation] are very busy. The course lasted two weeks; 90 religious women from 35 congregations attended. The program included conferences, practical cases and seminars.”
“The discussion on the bases of formation was very intense,” he added. “Our orientation is not so much psychological as it is pedagogical and spiritual. We certainly need psychology and sociology, but the endeavor is to consolidate Christian virtues. Faith cannot be explained psychologically and, because of this, spiritual pedagogy is our key point.”
The International Course for Seminary Teachers, held in Leggiuno, Italy, is in its 11th year. This year´s topic is “Servers of the Church Communion: Educate to Live Communion.”
The initiative aims to help diocesan bishops in the preparation and updating of teachers of future priests. Some 800 seminary teachers have taken the course. This year´s 82 participants come from 23 countries, and represent 44 dioceses, almost three-quarters of them are rectors or vice rectors. Two bishops are also attending.
In August, Father Francisco Mateos, coordinator of the course, together with professors Father Thomas Williams and Father Caesar Atuire, will hold a similar course in Caracas, for Venezuelan teachers, and another in Trujillo, for Peruvians.
This autumn the athenaeum will begin to offer a degree course in bioethics.
For more information, see http://www.upra.org.