I had my first go at an extended recollection with the seminarians last weekend. This would be my first and starting official 'work' within my role as Spiritual Director of the House for the seminary. With such an officious name like that and all those usual expectations that fall upon this formator, I was had taken great pains to want to make the weekend recollection work and be fruitful as well as meaningful for the seminarians in attendance.
I chose the letter from Pope Benedict XVI written to seminarians given last year in October of 2010.
There were many reasons why I chose this to present, but primarily it was to help our seminarians here in St Francis Xavier Major Seminary to come to better terms with their vocation and calling as they journey towards the priestly ministry as a community. Hence the title of the recollection: A Community Journeying Towards Priestly Ministry", which by the way is also what the Holy Father mentioned or pointed out in his letter.
Much has changed and 'transformed' over the years since I last left the seminary, upon finishing my studies here, till now that I am back as a formator. One of the significant changes would be the area of how to handle/deal/interact with young men who enter the seminary these days compared to how thsi was approached during my time when I first entered. I am sure the formators in the past had done their level best to form seminarians in line with the needs of the archdiocese. Today, however, the needs of the archdiocese have changed and this follows from the changing times we faced from society and the world around us. What methods and tools of formation used in the past may have been appropriate then, but is no longer viable or useful today. Hence, those changes we see unfolding today with how we deal with seminarians entering to the Seminary.
Nonetheless, the basics and foundation of forming seminarians into priests after the heart of Christ remain. We still look into the need to mould them through the four pillars of formation which all seminarians in the world would be very familiar with: Human, Spiritual, Pastoral and Intellectual.
The presentation I gave over the weekend wants to impress and encourage our current crop of seminarians that what they are undergoing now is not to make life 'difficult' for them but more to the betterment and empowerment of them to be truly that 'man of God' ,which the Holy Father mentions in his letter, with a heart that is after that of God and being the good shepherd of Christ in the world that is lost and scattered.
To that account, I hope I had contributed my part accordingly.