Seminar addresses priestly formation

February 6, 2019

Many symbols of Catholicism have changed, receded, or even disappeared, to be replaced by others. But not the Catholic priest.

The church’s presence in education, culture, and social work may not be as visible as it once was, but the priest’s role remains conspicuous. When most people think of Catholicism, they still think of a man in a Roman collar.

A seminar sponsored by Boston College that ran from September 2016 until the summer of 2018 has produced an interesting document on priesthood and ministry, with a noteworthy set of proposals on the formation of future priests.

The document, published in the last 2018 issue of Origins, is titled “To Serve the People of God: Renewing the Conversation on Priesthood and Ministry.”

The group that produced it includes men and women, lay and ordained Catholics, scholars and pastoral ministers. It was chaired by Richard Gaillardetz of the Boston College theology department and Thomas Groome and Richard Lennan of the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College.

The introduction of the nine-thousand-word document makes clear that the focus is on the formation of diocesan priests, not members of religious orders or new ecclesial movements such as the Neocatechumenal Way. The focus is also on the United States: the authors acknowledge that some of their proposals may not be applicable to other countries.