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Rome -- Personal spiritual formation in seminaries

To provide effective spiritual formation for seminarians, the formative program needs to be integrated with the interior freedom of the candidates for the priesthood. This formational work is also facilitated by the adoption of uniform criteria, accepted by the educators, from the rector and persons in charge of formation at the seminary up to the bishop, who is the one with the ultimate responsibility for priestly formation. These and other topics were discussed in the study week on “The personal spiritual formation of seminarians,” organized from February 7 to 11 by the Center for Priestly Formation at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

Taking part were rectors of seminaries, spiritual directors and formation directors from various ecclesial contexts. The speakers stressed once again the clear criteria for formation set forth by John Paul II and Benedict XVI, in the Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis and the “Letter to Seminarians.”

The interchange of experiences focused on celibacy, pastoral charity and prayer in forming persons who see the meaning of their life as one of self-giving, constantly practicing the virtues with a heart joyfully centered in Christ.

Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, was present at the meeting. Among the speakers were Professor Eduardo Baura, director of the Center for Priestly Formation; Professor Luis Romera, rector of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross; Msgr. Francesco Cavina, from the Secretariat of State; Professor Alvaro Granados, teacher of Pastoral Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross; Professor Enrique de la Lama, professor of Church History at the University of Navarra; Bishop Jose Maria Yanguas of Cuenca, Spain; Dr. Franco Poterzio, professor of Psychiatry at the University of Milan; Bishop Salvatore di Cristina of Monreale, Italy; and Professor Paul O’Callaghan, from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

Eight workshops were held on the following topics: “Knowing the seminarians background and environment”; “Preparatory year and discernment”; “Is self-formation compatible with guided formation?”; “Proposals for forming superiors and formation directors”; “The style of life of the seminarian within and outside the seminary (social life, vacation periods, friendships, Internet)”; “Interiorization of the option for celibacy: obstacles and means to persevere”; “Spiritual direction outside the seminary” ; “Spiritual direction after the seminary.”

Romana, No. 52, January-June 2011, p. 136-137.

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