I suppose all of us have an obsession of one kind or another; for some it is fishing, for others it is pictures of grandchildren, and for me it is ecclesial documents. The Congregation of the Clergy released the most up-to-date document on priestly formation this past Dec. 8, 2016. It is called the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis, or in more user-friendly terminology, The Gift of the Priestly Vocation. It would be great to give a summary of the entire document but what caught my eye was the fact than an impressive eight numbers were dedicated to minor seminaries. That is major support for minor seminaries.
The Ratio begins with a reminder from Canon Law which states that for the sake of fostering vocations minor seminaries are to be preserved and fostered when possible (C.I.C. 234). It then states the purpose of minor seminaries:
“…to assist the human and Christian growth of adolescents who manifest the seeds of a vocation to the ministerial priesthood. It develops, in a way appropriate to their age, that interior freedom by which they can make a response to the plan of God for their lives (The Gift of the Priestly Vocation, 18).
There is a lot packed into that little definition; to assist human and Christian growth…the seeds of a vocation…interior freedom…a response to the plan of God; they are something that the Church values, along with all the blood, sweat, and tears that go into making them a reality. The Ratio goes on to list a number of additional considerations; the qualities present in the young men, their friendship with Jesus, the means of formation, the virtues to be acquired, and the support that is needed.
As a Movement we can give thanks for our apostolic schools, places where young men can grow, learn about religious life as a Legionary missionary, and make a response to God’s plan.