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August 3, 2021
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August 3, 2021

Seminarians needed: Apply Within

By Neil Parsanlal

It was the great ancient Greek philosopher Socrates who uttered the famous statement “the unexamined life is not worth living”.

One of the happy consequences of the Covid-19 restrictions is the time provided for personal reflection, an ideal time to “come away and rest for a while”, and in so doing perhaps discern more clearly the voice of God speaking to us as a people.

And for those for whom this is a desert experience, this time of testing could very well lead to a deeper, more intimate encounter with Jesus Christ.

One of the places that has been providing that ambience for many years is the Regional Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs, set amidst the idyllic atmosphere of the hills of Mt St Benedict.

The Seminary itself is 78 years old and owes its humble beginnings to the unswerving commitment of then Archbishop Count Finbar Ryan OP and the contribution of the Benedictine Monks.

The cornerstone for the current seminary building though, was blessed by Archbishop Ryan on September 25, 1960, and the new seminary formally opened on June 3, 1961, the Feast Day of the Uganda Martyrs under whose patronage, along with St John Vianney whose Feast Day was celebrated on August 4, the seminary rests.

In these days of declining attendance at Holy Mass and an ageing priesthood, it is important to point out that the Seminary has provided this region with close to 200 priests and more than a fair share of bishops and archbishops.

Indeed, a cursory look up and down the Caribbean region will reveal that from Guyana to Jamaica, the vast majority of the dioceses are today shepherded by persons who once called the seminary home.

Equally important is the question of relevance. How relevant is a regional seminary in a region steeped in the development of its own jurisprudence but still largely clinging to the coat-tails of the British Privy Council as its final Court of Appeal?

How relevant is the regional seminary in the development of a distinctively Caribbean theology when the current language and rhythm of the liturgy still denies “full and active participation” by many?

Archbishop Jason Gordon speaks to that question of relevance in the accompanying article ‘Seminary is the heart of the Archdiocese’ where he calls for “a band of brothers” willing to make the sacrifice.

Renowned Catholic writer Henri Nouwen once noted that “Doctors, lawyers, and psychologists study to become qualified professionals who are paid to know what to do. A well-trained theologian or minister is only able to point out the universal tendency to narrow God down to our own little conceptions and expectations, and to call for an open mind and heart for God to be revealed.”

As the regional seminary celebrates its 60th anniversary in these pandemic times, there is no better time than the present to answer the call to “come away and rest for a while.”

Your brother, son, nephew, or grandson could be the next priest challenging us to open our minds and hearts to the revelation of God.

If you know anyone contemplating religious life, encourage them to talk to someone who could help with their discernment.

You can contact the Seminary as well at 662-6787 or visit their Facebook page.