Formation of priests in Karnataka, a state that has experienced a lot of anti-Christian violence from Hindu extremists, should be ongoing and reflect reality, a bishop says. “Seminaries create an artificial atmosphere, within a protected environment, and don’t reflect the realities going on beyond their walls… That’s why every priest needs adequate and timely formation throughout his life,” said Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangalore. For a priest to adequately respond to present-day issues with continuous divine inspiration, ongoing formation is necessary from day one till his last day, he told priests at a pastoral consultation in Mangalore yesterday. Following the day-long consultation, it was unanimously decided to adopt systematic mandatory ongoing formation for priests in the southern Indian city. A number of programs were drawn up for priests. Citing the example of Goa archdiocese, which has a year-long formation program for newly-ordained priests, Father Vincent Monteiro said: “We need to have formative programs for priests in every age group.” While one program of ongoing formation included a three-week intensive training course on personality development, relationships and social analysis, there were also special programs for senior and retired priests. “One of the programs is called ‘Aging Gracefully and Remaining Young’,” said Father Monteiro, coordinator of the study and initial planning for all formative programs. Interaction between priests and government officials to handle situations better in the future and studying crisis management, law, eco sciences and cultural heritage were some of the suggestions made at the consultation. To live and respond to every issue with integrity, a priest’s personal, human and theological growth is important, concluded Bishop D’Souza. IB13986.1649
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