“The seminary is also a school. But not a place for everybody. It is a place for those who are willing to serve God – to the last breath of their lives. Not a place for the weak but for the strong, with the strength that comes from Him who calls a handful of men to serve Him and all souls,” says a Brother, and now a priest (Fr. Pao) of the Rogationist Seminary.
The freshmen at the seminary go through a lot of adjustments. Seminary rules are laid down, matters concerning discipline, relationships, studies, community, living a prayerful life are strictly imposed.
Newbies make acquaintances and eventually forge friendships with fellow seminarians – something that helps a lot to “survive” semi-cloistered life.
“Self-mastery is a must,” a brother declares. This means that in daily ordinary encounters in the seminary, one cannot avoid to confront himself, to identify his values, his individual strengths, potentials and personal limitations. Self-acceptance and appreciation ought to be developed in the first year student until he acquires certain level of self-confidence that would facilitate community living.
Each level has its own set of demands: Adjustment after all, is not limited to freshmen. It is in fact, the continuous experience of each seminarian while he goes through the different stages of his formation. Extrovert personalities easily shine out, for instance, facilitating immediate interaction with other persons in the community. The timid ones, on the other hand, feel lost and alone. Hence the establishment of friendships among first year students and the upper classmen is the most convenient way to adjust.
Letter-writing is encouraged to ease homesickness. Strict visiting schedules are observed but considerations are given to families/parents who come from far provinces. In this case, the family can visit the candidate any time although the schedule of the community is still respected.
Brother assistants are assigned to help students in their academic life. These assistants stay with them during study periods. Morever, formators and teachers have quarterly meetings to discuss the needs of the seminarians in their academic life. Teachers are assumed to be collaborators in the formation process.
According to Jose Maria Ezpeleta, (Trainer) “A priest should be a leader by virtue of his life.” So the seminary as a community has the obligation to the church and to God.
Further, it should balance demand with encouragement.
Activities like dialogue with formators, family meetings, group discussions are some of the ways by which the students are challenged to work hard for their goals. Encouragement from their peers and from their families is a great help for them in the realization of the vocation they have chosen. The good examples set by the community (priests and brothers) are effective means to encourage the seminarians.
Rogationist Seminary College is in St. Hannibal Street, Merville, Paranaque City, Philippines. This interview was allowed with the permission of Fr. Mike De Silva, former Seminary Rector.
The seminary while being pretty much the same as any other school, is at the same time, different. Like their counterparts in “ordinary” schools, the seminarians are back to the school – the school that prepares them for the service of God and of the people.
Rosalinda Flores – Martinez
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Rosalinda_Flores-Martinez
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