Saturday, December 02, 2006

Back from Spain

I'm now back from a few days visiting our students in Spain. In many ways I think it was an ideal time to go. The autumn term is always a long one so it's good to have a distraction. But more than that, I think when you go to a place like Valladolid everything is new and exciting at first, after a while however you settle in and the reality of seminary formation can be quite challenging. I think all our students are being challenged in different ways, but also that they are doing well and making good progress.
I was impressed by the solid faith of the staff and also by their priestly witness. They have a fatherly concern for the students and want to see them all as priests one day, if that is God's will. I was also impressed by the structure of the day: I witnessed compulsory meditation in the chapel before morning prayer; Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament; Holy Rosary. These were times of community prayer - not optional extras.
The photo is of Sam, Tom & Will - our three students. Please keep them in your prayers.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is the course in Valladolid exclusively pre-theologate? Is it possible to study to be a priest there at the local college? Any idea why the training has stopped?

Fr Stephen said...

Hello Anonymous
The course in Spain is an introductory one, what is sometimes called a 'spiritual year'. Pope Benedict recently spoke very highly of this introduction to priestly formation. With falling numbers of applicants it seemed appropriate to make Valladolid the place where students can get away from all the distractions over here in order to live this spiritual year.
At present it is not possible to complete one's seminary training at the College - all the students move on to a seminary of their bishop's choice.

Anonymous said...

If you speak Spanish, could you at least ask a bishop's permission to do part of your training there?

What is wrong with the local academic course in Spain?

Fr Stephen said...

Hello Anonymous
You could certainly ask your bishop to send you there for the introductory year. More and more bishops are seeing the value of this year which is highyl recommended by Pope Benedict.
By the 'local academic course in Spain' I guess you mean the local theology faculty which is run by the Augustinians. I don't know anything about it except that it has recently been liked with the theology faculty in Burgos. Our students do not study there as they do their studies 'in house'.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I was reading the syllabus for the philosophy and the course looked excellent. It covers biology which I regard as a must considering the issues facing the Church today. It seems in tune with JP2's teaching on the body. Having been through a couple of 12 step fellowships myself, it looked exactly up my street. The theology is less significant as long it is orthodox Catholic but the philosophy is important as B16 reminded us in Regensberg - important as a tool of evangelization. I speak Spanish so I was wondering what room there was to negotiate? Simple as that. My concern about the British system is that there is a culture of drinking. I know someone who went to Ushaw as a guest (!) and was woken up by seminarians at 3am coming back from the pub. Presumably, these same students went to Mass the next morning.

Fr Stephen said...

Hello Anonymous
Perhaps the best thing for you to do would be to have a chat with the vocations director of your diocese. I can't comment on Ushaw as I know very little about it. I'm not aware of alcohol abuse being a problem at our own diocesan seminary. If it is no doubt this comment will draw some information!