Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Every year on Fourth Sunday of Easter the Catholic Church throughout the world prays for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. It is a good time for us to reflect on this vital aspect of our Christian lives and consider the huge challenge we face in this regard especially because there are so few local and religious vocations in this diocese.
1. The Cost of supporting a seminarian
In general the seminarian is at the seminary for 8 and a half months of the year, that is
from Feb to mid June and then from mid –July to end of November. At John Vianney Seminary,they also have a week’s holiday in Easter as well as week’s holiday in September.The total cost for a seminarian for those 8 1/2 months of the year is presently calculated to be R 69 500. This means that the Catholic Church pays
R 8 176 per month for a seminarian at St John Vianney Seminary.
(NOTE from official SACBC website: St John Vianney Seminary inPretoriais projected to cost R8.35 Million in R2012. This may seem expensive, but as a stand-alone institution, this is realistic. There are some 120 students resident this year, giving a cost per student of R69 500. Each Bishop pays R 42 000 per year per student. This leaves a shortfall of R 27 500 per student (or approx R3.54 Million) that must be found. In 2011, St John Vianney Seminary received a grant from the Bishops’ Lenten Appeal of R 2.1Million. A small grant is received each year from the Pontifical Mission Society’s Opus Sancti Petri Trust (in 2011 R500 000) leaving a deficit of nearly R900 000.)
As a diocese,we pay R 42 000 per seminarian per year to the seminary and the rest of the balance of R 27 500 is subsidised by funding from outside of the diocese. Of course the diocese has extra costs because the seminarians also get pocket money and a travel allowance. The diocese is also responsible for the payment of medical costs and any other extra expense which a seminarian may incur while in seminary formation such as paying for the seminarian to obtain a driver’s licence. Your continual generosity to the Seminarians Fund is a source of great encouragement to me and to the diocese as a whole.
2. The four seminarians
Presently – 2012 – we have four seminarians:
Three seminarians at St John Vianney Seminary inPretoria:
i) Vicky Rikhotso – final term;
ii) Boitumelo Magoro – fourth year theology;
iii) Tebogo Modiba – third year theology (doing internship at Dwars River Parish until June)
One seminarian at St Francis Xavier Seminary inCape Town:
iv) Boniface Chabalala – orientation year.
3. Future Prospects
It is difficult to predict the future concerning local vocations to the ordained priesthood but we can thank the Lord for the few dedicated seminarians of this diocese. They need our friendship, financial support and prayers. As a diocese we will need to continually help our youth to be formed in the love of Christ and to challenge some of them to a more radical response to God’s call as future religious and priests.
We are also proud of Fr John Selemela who has been assigned to teach and help with the formation our seminarians at St John Vianney Seminary inPretoria.
4.Promoting vocations to the religious life and priesthood in your parish
There is no easy way of promoting local vocations. It is a continual challenge for Catholic parents and families to express a great love and appreciation for the priests and missionaries in the parishes and to pray that God may call at least one of their children to the religious life or priestly ministry. We realise that many of our catholic parents do not desire this for their children and for this reason there needs to be a continual reminder in our parishes that God is calling some of their children to a priestly and religious vocation.
A practical way for cultivating a positive attitude towards the special vocation to a religious or priestly life is for each parish to establish a vocations promotion group of young adults and parents.This group would set aside some time once a week for praying for their own children to hear this special call of God. This group in the parish could also organise days of learning about vocations for the children as well as special outreach visits to Catholic children in the public schools in their area.
At the same time we need to be authentic, prayerful and happy missionaries and priests in this diocese, attracting the young to the profound beauty of a religious and priestly vocation, convinced in our hearts and convincing in our ministry so that some of our youth may consider this way of life as a real option for their future. Where the light of faith and love of Christ is alive in our catholic families, communities and associations, there also is the seed of a future priest and religious vocation.
5. The Challenge to all parishes and communities:Vision 2020
Pray for our priestly and religious candidates. Ask the uncomfortable question in your Parish Pastoral Councils: Where is the vocation promotion group in our parish? Can this not be part of our Vision2020 for the diocese, that by 2020 all parishes will have an enthusiastic, prayerful and active vocation promotion group of adults helping our children to respond to this most wonderful call of God. There is work to be done. Do not doubt that God is pouring the graces of a religious vocation and of priesthood in the hearts of our youth today. Reach out to where ever they are, teach, form and challenge them. Pray with them and sing with them songs of faith constantly. God will lead some of them to the next level of love and service, to the religious life and priesthood.
St John Vianney,Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart,Pray for us and our children.
St Joseph, guard the flame of faith of our future priests and religious.
Risen Lord Jesus, have mercy on us, mothers and fathers.
May God bless you all with fresh hope.
From: Bishop Joao Rodrigues
Tzaneen, 20 April 2012