SOME THOUGHTS FOR THE FUTURE
 
 
What will the future be like? College General has come a long way
since its humble beginnings in Ayuthia 330 years ago. Many who
will be attending the opening and blessing of the New Buildings
in Mariophile on 4th. October 1995 will continue their ministry
into the third millennium.  We present here a compilation of
reflections and remarks from various sources which we hope will
serve as pointers for formation and ministry in the future.
1/
    Has everything  changed? Is there no longer the same
challenge? Have we been compelled in the name of 'progress' to
lower our standards?  I can honestly confess that from all I have
seen and experienced in the College General, I have been both
impressed and edified by the spirit which runs down from staff to
students and outward to the world.  But does it really matter if
nowadays we use different text books? If the approach is called
eschatological or incarnational?  What does it matter, if the
time table is shaken a bit till its old bones rattle?  What
matters is that the fundamentals remain unshaken.  There is the
same spirit of prayer, the same generosity, the same spirit of
adventure.  If these were to die or if they were to escape our
renewal, then we might as well burn down the walls and begin
anew.
My only message to you is rather a reminder on what the Lord
wants of you as He wants of all His priests to the end of time.
He wants us to pour ourselves out and offer ourselves up daily
with Him to the eternal Father.  "He loved me and delivered
Himself for me."  These words should be written in large letters
on every door-post, on every wall, above and below, but above all
in the hearts of every one of you, so that the world will
recognize the true apostle of Christ.  Give the people all your
gifts of learning; preach to them in eloquent tones.  All will
prove useless if the basic sacrifice is absent.  This what your
people will look for in you and expect from you - that for their
sakes you are willing to work yourself to the bone.
Mgr. A. D. Galvin, Vicar Apostolic of Miri (writing in a message
to the seminarians in 1967).
 
2/
    If a seminarian has not experienced what it is like to give
till it hurts, he will find it hard to give himself totally in
the service of the poor and needy.
Archbishop Soter Fernandez commenting on the importance of the
practice of charity during the seminarians' formation - SINARAN
1991.
3/
The minister who cares for people is called to be skillful but
not a handyman; knowledgeable but not an imposter; a professional
but not a manipulator.  When he is able to deny himself, to be
faithful and to understand the meaning of human suffering, then
the man who is cared for will discover that through the hands of
those who want to be of help, God shows His tender love for him.
Henri J. M. Nouwen, in 'Creative Ministry'
4/
Dear seminarians of College General,...build yourselves a solid
self-discipline.  It will be your first guardian angel... The
mutual trust and love which will develop between you and the
people you will serve later in your ministry, will be your second
and powerful guardian angel.  With these two guardian angels you
will be safe and you will be a happy secular priest among people
who are happy to have you in their midst.
Fr. Giraud MEP, parish priest of the Church of St Aloysius,
Mantin, writing to seminarians on the occasion of the 50th.
anniversary of his sacerdotal ordination two years ago - SINARAN
1993.
5/
To be in the world and not of the world necessarily involves a
tension.  This takes place in the innermost depths of his being.
He has to transcend the world and himself by a process of
successive abstractions and so come to realize his image of
'Alter Christus' in the lives of his parishioners.  Not having to
take the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity as the religious
do, he still has to integrate these evangelical values in and
through his life and ministry.
The seminarians are searching for authenticity.  They are
questioning, reflecting, dialoguing with Tradition both East and
West, praying and trying to live true to their vocation.  I
believe strongly that we are heading towards a clearer and more
credible vision of our secular clergy today.  The renewal of the
Church means the renewal of her priests.
Message from the Rector, Fr. James Gnanapiragasam in SINARAN
1993.
 
6/
The mission of the secular priests and the laity have some
important characteristics in common - in that both are called to
prepare the field of the world for the seed of the Word of God.
Both are called to open wider the Church's doors, through which
the message of peace can enter the world.
 
Lumen Gentium states clearly that even in secular affairs there
is no human activity which can be withdrawn from God's dominion
(LG n.36).  In his life and ministry, the secular priest must be
prepared to enter into the domain of the human and the secular
where God may seem to be most absent, obscure or rejected and
bring to consciousness the incarnate presence of God in Jesus in
the world.
Fr. Sebastian Francis, "Secular Clergy: Some Reflections"
-SINARAN 1993
 
7/
The Priest in the Asian context
In the circumstances of present day Asia, what is the identity
and mission of the Asian priest to be formed? While emphasizing
the Christological and ecclesiological foundations of his being,
as taught by the magisterium of the universal Church, the Asian
Churches must duly insist on the local and contextual dimension
the priest must have by reason of his specific ministry to the
Asian peoples. In other words, besides being a man of God, a
disciple of Christ, an apostle of His message and a shepherd and
servant of his community, the priest is called to be also a man
of the people and for the people, especially among the poorer and
suffering sections.
For this, he must become a prophetic leader in the cause of human
dignity and rights, justice and peace which are essentially
concrete expressions of the Gospel he is called to preach.  By
reason of his religio-cultural context, his leadership should go
beyond the bounds of the eucharistic assembly and the parish to
make him "a man of dialogue" with the faiths and cultures of all
the people, without  any distinction of caste, creed or race.
Thus the "man of God" becomes "a man of unity and communion"
among his people.
Human Formation : Formators
Formators themselves, by their own approachability and
availability, their example of wholesome relationships with men
and women, their acceptance of their own limitations and
failures, should become living witnesses and examples of what it
means to be human.
Evangelical Poverty
Cultivating a spirit of poverty is an imperative in Asia where
actual poverty prevails in most parts and where a simple
life-style is upheld as an ideal for the 'man of God'.  As a
minister of Christ among the poor people, his simple lifestyle is
a powerful way of expressing his solidarity with them.
Missionary Formation
Seminarians must also be given the opportunity to meet and even
work with zealous missionaries, both priests and lay people, in
the field.  Such an encounter can stir their hearts and
imagination and inspire them to take up the missionary task with
enthusiasm.
Apart from the course on Missiology and the courses already
offered to acquaint seminarians with other religions and
cultures, there must be an effort to teach seminarians to be open
to values highly cherished in other religions, such as,
simplicity, hospitality, oneness with nature, non-violence, etc.
Forming Priests for Today's Asia, Statement by FABC Seminar  on
Priestly Formation, 1991. Catholic International, Vol. 3 No. 7,
1-14 April 1992.
8/
What are the most pressing problems priests and seminarians
confront?
"I don't think it is celibacy or lifestyle.  I think the real
difficulty, the crisis, is in the area of the spiritual - his
inner identity, his lack of spiritual life.  His style of
witnessing is only symptomatic.
 
A man likes cars, loves money, drinks.  I think these are just
symptoms of what is inside. The man might be very, very empty,
that is why he resorts to all these.  I call them self-image
props.  He doesn't know his real spirit, that he is being called
to be in union with Jesus, who was a simple man with the least of
material possessions and certainly none of these attachments.
Precisely, it is the spirit of Christ that gives us our proper
direction and orientation.  And this is exactly what I think is
the cause of this crisis: the absence of Christ in the heart of
the priest."
- Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales of Lipa, Philippines - Apostolic
Visitator to Philippine seminaries. Asia Focus, June 16, 1995
 
9/
"What persons of other faiths admire most is not the
superiority of our teaching, but the genuineness of our
convictions and the consequent quality of the lives we lead."
 
-Bishop Thomas Menamparampil of Dibrugarh, India.
10/
(Only when absolutely neccessary, to include the following which
is part of the article no.8 'Forming priests for today's Asia -
the first point in the section.)
a)  The Fifth Plenary Assembly of the FABC(1990) at Bandung
clearly opted for a "formation in the present milieu, responsive
to the signs of the times." It expressed its desire that the
future priest as "a man of communion" be enabled "to face the
various challenges that confront the Church of Asia: the
threatening ecological imbalance, poverty, the challenge of other
religions to the Christian faith, the need of dialogue with all
peoples of good will, the hard-to-control population explosion,
consumerism in the economic macro-system and the proper use of
mass media".
11/
We are one people: hierarchy, clergy, religious and laity,
journeying together to build God's kingdom.  The incarnation has
to be continued by the Church, by us in the world.  Future
priests should be taught to work with the lay faithful in a
spirit of co-responsibility.
Archbishop Soter on lay participation and role of parents in the
mission of the Church - SINARAN 1991.
 
 
 
 

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