WHAT ARE THE REDEMPTORIS MATER SEMINARIES

        They are one of the most important fruits of the conciliar renewal; a complete new reality, desired by the Second Vatican Council which in Presbyterorum Ordinis n.10 said, “The presbyters should remember that concern for all the Churches falls on them... and where it is necessary (because of a lack of clergy) not only a functional distribution of Presbyters should be facilitated, but also the implementation of special initiatives that will favor particular regions or nations or the whole world. To this end, the creation of International Seminaries for the good of the whole Church according to norms to be established and respecting the rights of the local Ordinary would be useful.” (PO,10)
        In 1991, the Intercongregational Commission set up by Pope John Paul II to deal with the serious scarcity of priests in many parts of the world recognized that:
        “This idea of the Council has been applied in the `Redemptoris Mater' seminaries which prepare presbyters for the new evangelisation according to the program of the Neocatechumenal Way... this would realize a new form of ministry: the diocesan missionary.” (L'Osservatore Romano, Italian Edition, 15.3.91)
        As stated in the Statutes and Rule of Life, the `Redemptoris Mater' Seminaries are not seminaries of the Neocatechumenal Way, but real diocesan seminaries which depend on the bishop. The students in these colleges receive the same theological formation as the other seminarians of the diocese. They do a year of pastoral work in the parishes as deacons and two years in the diocese as presbyters before the Bishop can send them in mission. But if the Bishop has need of them in his diocese, he can place them where he wishes, given that they are ordained without condition.
        A characteristic of these Redemptoris Mater Seminaries is that they are international: they are for the whole world and at the service of the Church.
        Experience has shown that the combining of a way of initiation to the Christian life - the Neocatechumenal Way - with the formation of the presbyter is a great help for the psychological, affective and human development of the candidates. (Before being presbyters they are Christians, and in the way of faith they learn prayer, obedience, the sense of the Cross, to be in communion, etc.) Above all, it is a help in uniting the mission with the parish, since the Neocatechumenal Way is a time of formation that finishes in the parish with living, adult, missionary communities united to the parish priest and the bishop.
        Many `Redemptoris Mater' seminaries have been erected throughout the world. In the United States of America there are two of them; the first one was erected in Newark, New Jersey and the second in Denver, Colorado.
        In Rome, where the first `Redemptoris Mater' Seminary began in 1987, about 100 presbyters have already been ordained, and are now working in the parishes, or are in mission in other dioceses throughout the world where the bishops have requested their services from the Cardinal Vicar.



Decree of erection of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary, Rome

        The Church of Rome, founded by the holy Apostles Peter and Paul and irrigated with their blood, ever faithful to the universal mission of its Bishop, the Pope, in the service of Truth and Charity, for the announcement of the Gospel of salvation to the whole world, in communion with the local sister Churches, has listened with veneration to the call the Holy Father made to the National Episcopal Conferences of Europe, in the letter signed on 2nd January 1986, for a new evangelisation of the European countries where Christianity has long been established.
        With joy she has seen arise within her generous impulses for the courageous witness of faith on the part of priests, religious and lay Christians.
Of particular significance among these is the offer that has come from the Neocatechumenal Way to found a Center of formation to the priesthood for those brothers who make themselves available for the specific task of taking the Gospel to countries which are distancing themselves from their ancient Christian roots.
        After lengthy reflection, prayer and evaluation of the proposal in the light of the Spirit of God, believing that I have correctly interpreted the pastoral concern of the Supreme Pontiff, and having listened to the Episcopal Council of Rome, with the present decree establish the `Diocesan College for the formation to the presbyterate for the new evangelisation' under the patronage of the Most Holy Virgin `Redemptoris Mater'.
        It will be governed under the norm of a precise `statute' and according to a `Rule of Life', attached to the present Decree, `ad experimentum' for three years.
        Given at Rome, from the Lateran Palace, on the 14th February 1988, Feast of Ss. Cyril and Methodius.
        HUGO CARDINAL POLETTI Vic.Gen. Prot. n. 218/88