(Vatican Radio) More than one hundred seminary rectors from throughout the English-speaking world gathered in Rome earlier this month under the guidance and sponsorship of the Congregation for Clergy to discuss the revised handbook of best practices for the formation of seminarians.
Known as the Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis – ratio fundamentalis or just ratio for short – the latest edition of the document is titled, On the Gift of Priestly Vocation.
The basic and animating idea of the Ratio is that of helping seminaries all around the world to succeed in their mission of forming men for the priesthood by first firmly grounding them in a self-conscious attitude of missionary discipleship, and then giving them the tools to live their lives as disciples to the fullest, in and through the ministerial priesthood to which God calls them through His Church.
One of the participants, Msgr. David L. Toups, rector of St. Vincent De Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida, told Vatican Radio this new document, which brings together the many disparate elements offered as teaching and formation tools by several different dicasteries in the thirty-odd years since the last Ratio was promulgated, and offers best practices to seminary rectors who work in vastly different cultural contexts in service of one mission, is more than welcome.
“It’s highly significant for us in the seminary world,” he said.
Msgr. Joseph Betchart, rector of Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon, also took part in the course, and told Vatican Radio he welcomes the holistic approach to formation, with the particular emphasis it puts on discipleship.
Click below to hear our conversation with Msgr. Toups and Msgr. Betchart
“In order to shepherd the People of God,” he said, “you have to – first of all – be a member of the People of God.”
Msgr. Betchart explained that the view this document takes is comprehensive.
“It is really focused on forming the man to be first and foremost a disciple of Jesus Christ,” he said, “because, as the axiom goes, ‘You can’t give what you don’t have.’”
The course sponsored by the Congregation for Clergy on the fundamental principles of the new Ratio fundamentalis ran from June 26th to July 7th in Rome.