With priestly ordinations taking place this time of year, there is a sense of hope and joy in the Church, as we welcome these new spiritual fathers into our parishes. But prior to being ordained a priest, these men go through a lengthy process of study, formation, and discernment as seminarians.
Fr. Peter Harman, rector of the North American College seminary in Rome, stopped by Morning Air® today to share about the seminarians in his charge, and how they have responded to the scandals the Church has faced in the last year.
There can be an impression in secular society that the only men who would become priests are those without any other options in life. However, Fr. Harman shared how that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“We’re seeing men who are very talented and very generous and very holy, giving it their all,” he said. “And I think that’s really a source of encouragement when I get up every morning here to be about the task of being a director. To remember to make gratitude part of my prayer, because of the graces that we have.”
Fr. Harman pointed out that the talent, generosity, and holiness of these men is an encouragement for how they will bring Christ to others in the priesthood, saying, “The priesthood is a lot harder, but also more fulfilling, than the seminary life. And I think our guys are beginning to see that the depth to which they put themselves out there is well-received among the people of God when they go home.”
The sex abuse scandals of the last year have certainly impacted the environment and focus of seminary life. But Fr. Harman explained that rather than remaining disheartened, he has encouraged the seminarians to see it as a challenge to go deeper in their relationship with the Lord, and to better understand the importance of personal integrity and holiness.
“When they came back from their apostolates and their work at home over the summer last year, they came back to a really different environment,” he said. “And we gathered them together last year and we sort of challenged them. That in the midst of all they see around them, this really is a chance for them to go deeper.”
“Our response to this is the integrity of our own lives. None of us would have wished this for the Church. But now that we see what has happened and what has come to light from the past, our response has to be a life of virtue and integrity from within. We only save the Church by living a holy life ourselves, and then we have to let everything fall where it will.”
Listen to the full conversation below: