The recruitment, formation and education of every future generation of priests is squarely placed on the shoulders of the present generation. We must safeguard and secure the solid and positive delivery of what Jesus taught and died for with His first band of priests, the Apostles. The message—the Truth—doesn’t change. The Church is built on the Rock of Faith. The ages of humanity—civilization—change. So with this change the delivery of the Truth needs to be relatable to everyone in every age in which the Gospel is preached and expected to be lived. In our time, this unbroken line of communicating the true faith has been passed on through the bishops and the priests.
The education and formation of future priests is an essential and important part of the Church’s growth and life in this world. We are taking the lead offered by the Church to create two new programs for the education and formation of the men whom God has given us to study for the priesthood. The first program is truly new and will impact the future of all men coming to the seminary (at whatever level) to study for the priesthood. Men, while not yet seminarians, enter into their first year of formation by way of a program called Journey. We see this year as an initiation into a measured and planned lifestyle, opening the man to the idea of the seminary and the disciplined and ordered life of priestly service.
The second program called Regency is open to seminarians, typically at college level or those in their later years as they are preparing for entry into sacred theology. Regency is a year set aside to work on human formation. The seminarian will have a chance to deepen his prayer life, experience fraternal life in community, work for a local business, study at Viterbo University and receive counseling with an in-house mentor. After his Regency experience, the seminarian is ready to complete his formal time of study in preparation for his ordination.
I would doubt very much that given today’s social needs and concerns, very few of us would want more doctors faster; speeding up their time in med school. Few of us would want a lawyer who took a quick trip through law school. These ideas could go on and on in various professions—except the priesthood. The need for priests is great; we cannot rush a man’s priestly formation. We cannot have the Church without priests; we cannot have the Eucharist (the living presence of Jesus Christ) without priests; yet, many seem to believe that we “invent” the Church on our own. It cannot be done and we need to start to understand that we cannot do so. We need properly and completely educated priests. The Church knows this to be true and She is serious about addressing the issue in our time.
There are many new ways of focusing our efforts in our beloved diocese. These new programs for priestly formation are centered on God’s blessings and His gifts of vocations to the priesthood are being fostered and cared for into the future. Pray for priests.
Prayer For Vocations
Heavenly Father, Bless your Church with an abundance of holy and zealous priests, deacons, brothers, and sisters. Give those you have called to the married state and those you have chosen to live as single persons in the world, the special graces that their lives require. Form us all in the likeness of Your Son, so that in Him, with Him, and through Him, we may love you more deeply and serve you more faithfully, always and everywhere. With Mary we ask this through Christ our Lord.