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Filipino priests encouraged to study in Rome

Seminary formators from across the country attend the closing Mass of the National Conference on the Promotion of the New Ratio in Cebu City, Jan. 26, 2018. ROY LAGARDE

CEBU City, January 28, 2018–A top Vatican official exhorted Filipino bishops to send more priests to Rome for further studies.

Cardinal Beniamano Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, said that studying in universities in Rome may allow priests to discover wider horizons for their work of evangelization.

He particularly encouraged the priests “to undertake, in a unique way, ongoing human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation”.

“This is in line with the desire of the Ratio Fundamentalis: to better prepare our seminary formators, as they interact with brother priests from different regions of the Philippines,” Stella said.

The cardinal made the suggestion in a message to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on the occasion of its plenary assembly in Cebu City.

His letter was read by Mexican Archbishop Jorge Patron Wong, secretary of seminaries at the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy.

The plenary assembly was preceded by the National Conference for the Promotion of the New Ratio where Wong served as its keynote speaker.

Stella said it would also be “most advantageous” if priests would attend the “Course on the Practice of Priestly Formation” that is held at their dicastery.

“This course will help them, first of all, to deepen their own vocation,” he said.

“They will also acquire better formational skills and educational methods to help the youth discern their vocation, guide seminarians, and accompany their fellow priests,” he added.

The CBCP has a center in Rome where priests and seminarians can finish their studies.

To date, there are about 27 Filipino priests residing at the Pontificio Collegio Filipino (PCF) and are studying in the different ecclesiastical centers in Rome.

But of the 86 Philippine dioceses, PCF rector Fr. Greg Gaston said that only 20 have student-priests in Rome.

These include three from Bacolod, two each from Caceres, Capiz, Cebu, Lipa and Manila, and one each from Bayombong, Calbayog, Cotabato, Davao, Gumaca, Jaro, Laoag, Lingayen-Dagupan, Lucena, Marbel, Palo, San Fernando in Pampanga, Tagum and Virac.

“It is hoped that more dioceses could send at least one priest for further studies at least every five years to man their seminaries, tribunals and other specialized ministries,” Gaston said.

He also said that the Collegio tries its best to help dioceses send priest to Rome in terms of finding scholarships, encouraging local funding counterpart and urging benefactors to help priests from their dioceses of origin. (Roy Lagarde / CBCPNews)

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