Jueves, 10 de noviembre de 2016

En la reunión de Su Eminencia el Cardenal Filoni con los formadores de los tres seminarios mayores (St. Dominic., San Agustín y Emaús) en Lusaka, que ha tenido lugar después de la misa, el prefecto de la Congregación para la Evangelización de los Pueblos ha reiterado la importancia de la Exhortación Apostólica Evangelii Gaudium del Papa Francisco. (Fides)

Visit of His Eminence Card. Filoni to Zambia

7-10 November 2016

Meeting with Formators at St. Dominic’s Seminary, Lusaka, Zambia

Address to Formators

Tuesday, 8 November 2016


Dear brother Priests,

1.          Greeting: I would like to reiterate what was already mentioned during Holy Mass: it is a joy for me to be here with you and, on behalf of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, I thank you for your dedication to priestly formation. Your acceptance of the invitation to work in a seminary is truly a gift to the Church in Zambia. 

2. Evangelii Gaudium: Your work in seminary formation is an invaluable part of the Church’s mission of evangelization. As I mentioned to the priests and religious in Malawi last week, we must always remember that the call to evangelize comes to us from the Gospel and is continually renewed in our personal encounter with Jesus. For those who serve as formators of future priests there is serious need to regularly renew and strengthen one’s relationship with Jesus Christ. Our life in Christ will bring about a change in us and, at the same time, give us a true and profound joy that always wants and needs to be shared. As Pope Francis mentioned in Evangelii Gaudium, “For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?” (n. 8). It is in radiating that same joy, the fruit of your daily encounters with the Lord, to your seminarians that you effectively carry out your call to evangelize. 

3. Spiritual Life: Therefore, dear brother priests, I urge you to remain always grounded in prayer. In the words of St. Paul to the Galatians, “if we live in the Spirit, we walk also according to the Spirit,” (5:25). With these words, the Apostle reminds us that the spiritual life of priests must be nourished and guided by the Spirit of God who leads us to holiness, perfected by charity. “Once a priest stops praying or prays too little, because he says he has too much work, he has already begun to lose his memory,” the memory of what God has done for me and the memory of all that I have received and been asked to give in return.[1] I am well aware that there is a need for more priest formators in the seminaries of Zambia, something which your Bishops are trying to address, and I thank you for your hard work and dedication in light of these challenges. Nevertheless, your daily rootedness in Christ through prayer is essential to your life as a priest and formator. In order to fully live his priestly identity the spiritual life of a priest must be linked to prayer and docility to the Word of God. Pray and listen, as Mary did. 

4. Moral Life: I would also like to say a word about celibacy and priestly friendship. This choice in life must be considered in the context of the bond that was forged at your Ordination. For us priests, “Ordination configures [us] to Jesus Christ Head and Spouse of the Church. The Church, as the Spouse of Jesus Christ, needs to be loved by the priest in the total and exclusive way that Jesus Christ Head and Spouse loved her.”[2] Thus, the priest must welcome celibacy “with a free and loving decision that needs to be continually renewed,” being fully aware of the weakness of the human condition.[3] In addition to prayer, one way to persevere in the priestly vocation is to cultivate bonds of friendship with brother priests. The support of fellow priests is always a gift of grace and a precious aid for living our priesthood and ministry. Where fraternal support is lacking among priests, a crisis may not be far away. Always work to maintain and deepen the bonds of your friendship here. “Seminarians must learn to live in community in such a way that the common life may later lead to an authentic experience of the priesthood as close priestly fraternity.”[4] Your example in that regard will be one of the best teachers. 

5. Additional Encouragement: Before concluding, please allow me to offer a few additional words of gratitude and encouragement.  Thank you for responding to the Bishops’ request to increase the number and quality of the encounters between your seminarians and our Blessed Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist. The practice of adoration and Benediction will bear fruit in the life of the seminary. In addition to Eucharistic devotion, be sure to encourage your seminarians to develop an attentiveness and love for the Word of God. In a world saturated with information from the many forms of mass media, the youth of today are hearing many different voices. Teach them how to listen first to the voice of God through prayer and the Scriptures. The Word of God must be the basis of their daily prayer and, one day, their preaching as well. Remind them, by your example, that we are ordained to a priestly ministry, not a political office, and our preaching and forms of evangelization should be indicative of our service to the Word, not our political preferences.

Finally, be sure to emphasize the psychological and human growth of each candidate.[5] This can only be carried out if formators are committed to closely accompany the seminarians on their vocational journey. Walk with them as their spiritual fathers and, following the wisdom of this Year of Mercy, be always ready to show them the Merciful Face of God.        

6. Conclusion: As I conclude, dear brother priests, I thank you, on behalf of Pope Francis and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, for your hard work and dedicated service in our shared mission of evangelization. “Thank you for your courage in following Jesus.”[6] Your zeal and untiring efforts are a great gift to the Church. Let us go forth, united and strengthened in our common love of our Lord and our Mother, the Church.  May Our Lady, St. John Vianney and the great African Saints protect you and accompany you always. We remain united in prayer. God bless you! 

[1] Pope Francis, Address to Clergy, Men and Women Religious and Seminarians, Kampala (Uganda), 28 November 2015.

[2] John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, n. 29.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Pope Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus, 19 November 2011, n. 103 (quoting the Propositio of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops).

[5] Cf. ibid.

[6] Pope Francis, Address to Clergy, Men and Women Religious and Seminarians, Nairobi (Kenya), 26 November 2015.

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