Above, the Rector and 4th theologians make their annual visit to the DC Nunciature, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre receives a copy of TC’s centennial volume, Ecce Quam Bonum: A History of Theological College.
A LETTER FROM THE RECTOR
A Horizon of Hope
In his book, Living Today for God, Roger Schutz wrote: “During the darkest periods of history, quite often a small number of men and women, scattered throughout the world, have been able to reverse the source of historical evolutions. This was only possible because they hoped beyond all hope. What had been bound for disintegration then entered into the current of a new dynamism.” The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar as with eagle’s wings; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and never tire.” And in the words of Pope Francis at the outset of his pontificate: “…to protect every man and woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope!”
I share these quotations because as Theological College begins its second century of service to the Church in the United States hope is needed as the Church faces the consequences of the recently revealed history of sexual abuse and coverups. Shock, anger, discouragement, feelings of betrayal and distrust toward those in positions of authority in the Church all permeate this present moment in the Church’s history. At this crucial moment, Theological College renews its commitment to be a community of hope preparing a new generation of diocesan priests who hope in the Lord, who will renew their strength, who will run and not grow weary, who will walk and never tire, who will protect every man and woman, who will open up a horizon of hope and let a ray of light break through the heavy clouds that darken this present moment in our Church’s history.
In order to prepare future priests who will be able to restore hope and confidence amongst the people of God, Theological College is responsible for discerning the readiness of a priesthood candidate to enter the seminary and benefit from the formation program: psychological tests and interviews, background checks, training programs related to protecting the most vulnerable are all essential to the process of acceptance into Theological College. Once accepted, every seminarian is accompanied by a spiritual director and a formation advisor throughout their formation. A list of approved therapists is available for those who need psychological assistance. Pastoral supervisors are trained to both guide and evaluate seminarians as they minister to the poor, in religious education programs, in hospitals and in parishes. Reporting procedures related to inappropriate conduct are described in the seminary’s Rule of Life. Yearly evaluations describe how seminarians evidence affective maturity, psychosexual integration, and a full understanding of the consequences of a commitment to celibate chastity. Once a semester, a licensed psychologist, offers Rector’s Conferences on human development, sexual integration, and boundaries in pastoral ministry, as well as on how a healthy and balanced lifestyle can assist a priest to avoid personal and sexual vulnerabilities, especially in times of stress and anxiety.
In a public blog broadcast recently released by Salt & Light Media, TC alumnus Father Matthew Gworek (’16) calls upon us to embrace the hope of Jesus Christ: “It’s a hope that throughout our history has helped faithful men and women endure struggles and tragedies of all kinds, from outside and inside the Church.” At this time of challenge and controversy, the seminary remains faithful to this hope. Theological College renews its commitment to prepare men who will be good shepherds after the mind and heart of Christ, priests who acknowledge that everything they say and do can and will have lasting consequences in the lives of those they serve. As a seminary, Theological College prays for all victims of sexual abuse and expresses its sorrow and anguish. At the same time, Theological College believes that this moment of crisis can become of moment of grace, a new beginning, allowing the Church to move into the future promising greater accountability, transparency and care especially for the most vulnerable.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Reverend Gerald McBrearity, P.S.S. (’73)