Saturday, February 17, 2018

Greetings for the seminarians from Sardinia

At noon today (6:00am EST), in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience the Community from the Pontifical Sardinian Regional College.

Speech of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
shared with members of the 
Pontifical Sardinian Regional College

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear professors and alumni!

I welcome you on the occasion of the ninetieth anniversary of the establishment of the Pontifical Regional College of Sardinia.  It was Pope Pius XI who called on the Italian Bishops, especially from the south-central parts of the country and the islands, to agree on the concentration of the Seminaries, in order to provide for the education of those who aspire to the priesthood.  In your region, the Seminary was first established in Cuglieri, together with the Faculty of Theology; it was later transferred to the main town.  I greet you all with affection, beginning with your Pastors, especially the Archbishop of Cagliari, His Excellency, Arrigo Miglio, who I thank for his kind words.

On this anniversary, I wish to be one with you in offering praise to the Lord, who over these years has accompanied with his grace, the lives of many priests who have been formed in this important institution of education, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  It has given the Church many ministers who are now engaged in your local Churches and in various missions ad gentes in other places throughout the universal Church.  May this commemorative circumstance give new energy to the pastoral care of vocations and to the up-to-date and accurate formation of candidates for Sacred Orders, for the benefit of the people of God.

Dear seminarians, you are being prepared so that you may be tomorrow's workers in the Lord's harvest, priests who know how to work together, including between various dioceses.  This is particularly precious for a region such as Sardinia, which is steeped in faith and in Christian religious traditions, and which, also due to conditions of insularity, requires special care for the relationships between your various diocesan communities.  Today's material and spiritual poverty makes even more important, that which has always been required, that pastors be attentive to the poor, able to spend time with them, with a simple lifestyle, so that the poor can feel that our churches are first and foremost their homes.  I encourage you to prepare yourselves beginning right now to become priests of the people and for the people, not seeking to dominate the flock that will be entrusted to your care (cf 1 Peter 5:3), but to serve them.  There is a great need for men of God who focus on what is essential, who lead a sober and transparent life, without nostalgia for the past but capable of looking ahead according to the healthy tradition of the Church.

During these years of preparation for the ordained ministry, you are experiencing a special and unrepeatable moment of your life. May you be ever more aware of the grace that the Lord has granted you by echoing within you the invitation to leave everything and to follow him, to spend time with him and then to be sent out to preach (cf Mt 4:19-20; Mk 3:14). In you, in a particular way, are the hopes of the Church that is in Sardinia! Your Bishops follow your progress with affection and concern, counting so much on you and your resolve to conform to Jesus, the Good Shepherd for the good and holiness of the Christian communities of your region. Walk with joy, tenacity and seriousness along this journey of formation, to take the form of apostolic life, which can respond to today's demands for evangelization.

The Seminarian is more than a function of an institution for the acquisition of theological and pastoral skills and a place of common life and study; yours is a real ecclesial experience, you are a singular community of missionary disciples, called to follow the Lord Jesus closely, to be with him day and night, to share the mystery of his Cross and Resurrection, to expose yourselves to the Word and the Spirit, to verify and to mature the specific traits of the apostolic following. From now on, it is your concern to prepare yourselves adequately to assume a free and irrevocable choice of total fidelity to Christ, to his Church and to your vocation and mission.

The Seminary is a school of faith, which is learned first of all in prayer, especially in liturgical prayer.  In this time, you are cultivating a friendship with Jesus, centred around the Eucharist and nourished by contemplation and the study of Sacred Scripture.  No one can be effective in the ministry if he does not live in union with Christ.  Without Him, we can do nothing (cf Jn 15:5).

In the journey of the Seminarian, the role of the formators is decisive: the quality of the priesthood depends largely on the commitment of those responsible for formation. They are called to work with rectitude and wisdom for the development of coherent and balanced personalities, capable of validly assuming, and then responsibly fulfilling, the presbyteral mission. In this delicate work of formation, your seminary also carries out an indispensable service to the Dioceses, promoting the quality of the formation of clergy and the communion among the Churches.

I entrust all of you to the maternal protection of Our Lady of Bonaria.  Based on my own experience, I can tell you that the Seminary is a privileged moment in which we experience this loving presence of Our Lady in our life. She is always watching with loving thoughts for each one of you. She is your mother. You can come to Mary often and you can trust her. I assure you of my prayer and my blessing for all of you. And please, I ask you to pray for me.

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