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.
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
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