Cardinal Filoni to educators: seminarians have to be helped to become aware that the Church is missionary by nature, and to become a priest means to be sent on mission

Bangui (Agenzia Fides) - "The unity of the educators and the hearty co-operation among them, make the creation of adequate educational and formation programs possible, and in particular provide candidates to priesthood a significant example of concrete and ecclesial communion, which is a core value of Christian life and pastoral ministry." This is the recommendation that Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, addressed to the Educators of the major Seminary "Saint Marc" and of the propaedeutic, who met this morning in Bangui, at the beginning of his pastoral visit in Central African Republic (see Fides 18/07/2012), where he arrived last night. The Prefect of the Congregation stressed that the spiritual formation of seminarians has to be directed to ensure that they "acquire a profound missionary spirit, human virtues and an ecclesial sense. Seminarians must be helped to become aware that the Church is missionary by nature. And to become a priest means to be sent on mission, which consists principally in witnessing faith and charity." Among the human values that seminarians must cultivate, the Cardinal mentioned the sense of honesty, responsibility, and the word given, love for truth and justice. The ecclesial dimension includes a great love for the Church of Christ, a humble and filial attachment to the Holy Father, the filial support to their Bishop and the relations of friendship and solidarity with others. "For them to reach a solid and satisfying spiritual life, seminarians necessarily need means such as asceticism, sacramental and liturgical" continued Cardinal Filoni indicating the celebration of the Eucharist, "which must be the center of the seminary life," the Liturgy of the Hours, devotion to the Virgin Mary in particular expressed in the prayer of the Holy Rosary, the Sacrament of Penance, to go on retreats... In particular, the Prefect of the Congregation invited the educators to help seminarians gain an "emotional maturity", clear ideas and a deep conviction on the indivisible nature of celibacy, chastity and grace of priesthood: "Teach them that priesthood requires a total gift of oneself: body, heart, will and ability to love God." The observance of priestly obligations certainly involves a great spirit of sacrifice, so the Cardinal urged educators not to keep silent about the difficulties to seminarians, so that they are able to take these commitments "in full consciousness and with great responsibility." Another important aspect of the life of seminarians is made up from the study, as "future priests need a good doctrinal formation- said Cardinal Filoni - which includes, on one hand the general knowledge base, and on the other the other sacred sciences." Faced with all these requirements, of great importance is the discernment that educators are called to carry out, so candidates for priesthood are "worthy and qualified, true disciples of Christ and true servants of the Church." The Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples finally highlighted: "It is necessary for the educator not only to be able to transmit the doctrine, but also able to offer the example of life, to be models and examples for young people." (SL) (Agenzia Fides 19/7/2012)