Columns

About our seminarians

Originally Appeared in : 9824-11/22/18
I recently visited two of the seminaries where our men from the Diocese of Savannah are studying to be our future priests. As the Vocation Director, I have a privileged view of the good that is happening in the seminaries, giving me much encouragement and hope for the future.
 
Whenever I visit the seminaries, I always find joyful, young men who have chosen to respond gladly to an invitation from Jesus himself to follow him in a radical way. Jesus has filled their hearts with great love for him and his people. They are eager to grow in holiness so they can become the future shepherds. These men love the Church and long to be part of its renewal. There is an inspiring deep sense of conviction is today’s seminarians. Nobody is forcing them to go to the seminary and nobody is keeping them in there, yet they remain determined as ever to follow Christ in this radical way.
 
Also in the seminaries I find priests and faculty members who know the students well. They challenge the men when needed, and encourage them when needed. Seminarians are the product of today’s culture and society – they do not grow up in a vacuum – so a good seminary understands where the men are coming from in order to help them mature and grow closer to Christ. Fraternity, the development of healthy relationships, physical health, academics and counseling all play essential roles in seminary life, along with the expected spiritual formation.
 
Seminaries today closely follow the guidelines set forth by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1992 in a document titled “Pastores Dabo Vobis” or “I will give you Shepherds.” This document, written after a gathering of bishops of the whole world, provides a uniform, worldwide roadmap for seminaries to follow when forming new priests. It took some time for the instructions of “Pastores Dabo Vobis” to be implemented, so the priests ordained in the past 20 years or so are the product of the formation plan laid out by Pope John Paul II. 
 
The framework that “Pastores Dabo Vobis” provides is based on four pillars or dimensions identified by Pope John Paul II. These are specific areas of a seminarian’s life that need attention in order for him to become a good priest: human, spiritual, pastoral, and academic. Of these four, though all of them necessary, Pope John Paul II highlighted the significant importance of human formation. He wrote: “In order that his [priestly] ministry may be humanly as credible and acceptable as possible, it is important that the priest should mold his human personality in such a way that it becomes a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ the Redeemer of humanity.” In other words, if a priest lacks the ability to effectively communicate the message of Christ to others through his humanity, he will not be an effective priest.
 
Despite its challenges and ups and downs, being the Vocation Director gives me tremendous insight into what is happening now, and some light into what is to come. We are blessed with 20 seminarians in our diocese, and I can confidently say that we have excellent men. These seminarians are open to the formation process and are eager to serve each of us here in our diocese.
 
Father Pablo Migone is chancellor of the Diocese of Savannah and resides in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Savannah.
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