Tuesday, September 30, 2014

THE "REAL" SEMINARY

The Catholics of Guam are once more being asked to build and support a seminary. This time it is the Saint John Paul II Archdiocesan Seminary located in what was the Retreat Center in Malojloj, which was, prior to that, the Carmelite monastery. 

As we have already noted in several posts, there should be no need for another seminary. We were told for more than a decade that the Redemptoris Mater Seminary WAS the seminary FOR the Archdiocese of Agana.

So why are we being asked to build and support another seminary? Because the Redemptoris Mater Seminary is EXCLUSIVELY a seminary which "prepares men for the priesthood...following the life and itinerary of the Neocatechumenal Way." (Article III. Articles of Incorporation, RMS.)


The exclusive Neocatechumenal mission of RMS came glaringly to light this past year when first Junee Valencia objected to a Neocatechumenal formation and then Aaron Quitugua. Apparently a compromise was struck with Junee. He was given a separate place to live but no other options to study other than with the neos at RMS. Aaron Quitugua was flatly refused sponsorship to any other seminary other than RMS. In other words, it's the NEO way or its NO way when it comes to being a priest in the Archdiocese of Agana.

After these two public blow-ups, Archbishop Apuron, in December of 2013, apparently decided to mollify the restless locals by establishing a second seminary...sort of. I say "sort of" because even if the Malojloj facility is fixed up to house aspirants to the diocesan priesthood, they still have no alternative course of study other than what is offered at RMS and the Blessed Diego Institute with its very spotty schedule of instruction and a list of professors who either haven't been here in years, are here only infrequently, or who have questionable credentials to even teach what they're teaching.

(By the way, you can see how much our archdiocesan leadership cares about this second seminary by going to the archdiocesan website and clicking on "Seminary". Even after almost a year since it was "established", there is no mention of this other seminary, only (of course) RMS. The only place the JP2 seminary is mentioned is in the section about the Annual Appeal.)

I'll be offering more evidence for all of the above in the near future, but the question for our archdiocesan leaders is WHY ARE YOU NOT SUPPORTING THE REAL SEMINARY?

The "real" seminary is the Regional Seminary for the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific (CEPAC), the Pacific Regional Seminary of St. Peter Chanel. The Archdiocese of Agana has been a member of CEPAC since 1984 and Archbishop Apuron himself served as its president from 2003 to 2010, yet we send no one to this seminary. 

Located in Fiji, The Regional Seminary of St. Peter Chanel has been in existence since 1972, and it has trained hundreds of men from across our region of the Pacific to become priests. Currently there are 60 men studying for the priesthood at this seminary from the following dioceses: Suva (Fiji), Noumea (New Caledonia), Samoa-Apia, Tonga, Port Vila (Vanuatu), Rarotonga (Cook Islands), Tarawa and Nauru, and the Caroline Islands. BUT NONE FROM GUAM. 

(Note: Former Jesuit brother, Dave Antonelli, who has served for many years in Yap and other islands of Micronesia, is currently studying there and will soon be ordained to the Diocese of the Caroline Islands.)

The current seminary population also includes another 61 seminarians from five affiliated colleges: Marist College, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, Columban Formation House, the Salesians, and the Vincentian Formation House. Also studying there are two religious sisters. The current total seminary student population is 123. 

The faculty includes a long list of priests, nuns, and lay persons with lots of academic degrees to their names.

There is NO WAY Guam could ever compete with this seminary NOR SHOULD WE. We are actually bound to support it. Yet we do not. Here is what Pope John Paul II said about this seminary on his visit to Fiji in 1986:
I wish to congratulate you, as I have already done on other occasions, on the establishment of this Regional Seminary of the Pacific. It fills my heart with joy to hear that the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life is growing year by year. I know that, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, this increase is due in no small part to your own zealous efforts as shepherds of the flock of Christ. 
I am pleased, too, that the promotion of priestly vocations and the support of this Regional Seminary have been marked by true collaboration.  Thus you have indeed borne witness to the collegial nature of the episcopal ministry in your work to ensure a more effective programme of priestly formation for all your particular Churches. I would ask you always to maintain this interest in the Seminary  and particularly in the seminarians, through personal contact and fatherly concern. It is important that all aspects of seminary training should lead young men to a greater knowledge and love of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
I encourage you to continue in the vital task of promoting vocations to the priesthood and to religious life. The future of the Church depends in great part upon the evangelical witness and generous service of priests and religious. In particular, I encourage you in your pastoral solicitude to reach out to the young people of your parishes and communities. My prayer is that you will witness such a flowering of vocations in your midst that, in the not too distant future, the Churches which have been established by missionaries will in turn be sending forth missionaries to other nations.*
Perhaps because we have NOT supported our own regional seminary as Pope John Paul II exhorted us to, Guam is not only NOT "sending forth missionaries" from "Churches established by missionaries", we are now taking vocations from other dioceses. 

But really! What is in the best interest of our young men from Guam who want to serve this Archdiocese as true diocesan priests? A boarding house in Malojloj with spotty formation at a Neocatechumenal seminary? Or sending them to a long established seminary, specifically established to serve our region, and the seminary the Holy Father urged us to support? 

Suggestion. Rather than give ANY money to this "bone" being thrown to us (after all these years of being lied to about RMS), offer to support local aspirants to the diocesan priesthood who will attend the Seminary our sainted Holy Father implored us to support, and where our men can receive a TRUE seminary education. That is, of course, if Archbishop Apuron will even sponsor them there. 


2014 Seminarians of the Pacific Regional Seminary of St. Peter Chanel

* At the beginning of his address, Pope John Paul II, names the member dioceses of the conference:
As bishops, you represent in your own persons the People of God of the Archdioceses of Suva, Agaña, Papeete, Nouméa, and Samoa-Apia and Tokelau, and the Dioceses of Port-Vila, Tonga, Wallis and Futuna, Taiohae, Samoa-Pago Pago Chalan Kanoa, Rarotonga, Tarawa and Nauru, Carolines-Marshalls and the Mission Sui iuris of Funafuti. The name of each of these local Churches speaks of God’s providential love, incarnated in a particular culture and people, in the lives of the clergy, religious and laity to whom you give a shepherd’s care.

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