Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 17, 2003
The confusion is over
People now realize how important priests are for life of the church
By RENATO GANDIA
"We went through a period of time, a confused period, in which we thought that if we promoted the priesthood, we were taking away from other ministries."
- Fr. Shayne Craig
"So they bring very rich experience to the community or emotional baggage sometimes, which can be a good growth point," said Craig, who is from Victoria.
Craig's group at the seminary when he was in formation was different. Most of his colleagues after graduating high school went to the university and then to the seminary.
He describes his group as "more or less homogenous" but lacking in work experience. "We didn't have a lot of work experience. We didn't have a lot of relational experience."
In terms of response to formation, Craig finds the seminarians today "have a great desire . . . to really be in the heart of the Church."
"They want to be one with Christ, to be one with the Church in every possible way. So I think they have a certain amount of focus, which is very helpful."
He finds the seminarians very receptive in formation.
"They want spiritual formation, they want time in prayer, they want time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, they want to learn about the tradition of the Church."
He observed a great deal of openness and intense search to really know Christ and the Church.
Craig is convinced such intense response emanates from the radical choice the seminarians are making in choosing the priesthood.
"A lot of people find it incomprehensible that these men would choose the priesthood in spite of the celibacy they also have to embrace," he said.
In a way, these men's choice is counter-cultural.
Such realities were also present during his time as a seminarian. But he said it was not as intense then as now.
Before, priesthood had a certain kind of respectability and presence within the community. However, if such respectability and presence still remain, they are diminished.
With the Church turning her heart and mind towards youth in a very decisive way, Craig believes there will be an upsurge of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
People are beginning to realize that the ministerial priesthood exists and builds up all the other ministries and charisms in the Church, he said.
That's why the people of God in the parishes are crying for priests. They support the priesthood in many different ways because they want them, Craig said.
"There is a mobilization within the Church in support of the priestly ministry because the people see how important and crucial priesthood is for the growth and life of the Church."
"We went through a period of time, a confused period, in which we thought that if we promoted the priesthood, we were taking away from other ministries.
"And I think that confusion is over."
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