Fr. Philip Powell, OP writes a post to seminarian–diocesan or religious–who is being forced to complete a course in Clinical Pastoral Education and says This post is intended to incite a rebellion.
Fr. Philip Powell, OP writes a post to seminarian–diocesan or religious–who is being forced to complete a course in Clinical Pastoral Education and says This post is intended to incite a rebellion.
Hi all, and Jeff.
Not to open a can of worms, but how’d we get to where seminarians or religious have to take this class if the people running the seminaries are Roman Catholics?
Also, how does the class he discusses differ from the pastoral year seminarians have the sixth year in their studies?
CPE became fashionable in the 60’s and 70’s as a form of religious therapy. Liberals found out pretty quickly that the process also worked great for rooting out orthodox seminarians and getting rid of them. Any man who couldn’t get through the group encounter style of education that CPE uses must be deficient. CPE protocols label orthodox believers as rigid, emotionally unavailable, intolerant, etc. The whole program is basically one long process of emotional manipulation. I know some very, very scary CPE supervisors out there who shouldn’t be teaching anyone anything much less forming the hearts and minds of future priests.
Fr. Philip, OP
I had a bad experience with group therapy within our community when I joined this religious order in Wash. DC. I always feel everybody becomes tense during the talking session. A lib/fem religious sister who is my adviser suggested to me that I can be a layperson to serve the Lord. I left that wacko order after a year of postulancy. The theological schools like WTU (Wash. DC), CTU (Chicago) and GTU (Berkeley) are big on these CPE program.
I said it over on his blog, but it bears repeating his advice: document! document! document! It’s not just advice for religious, but anyone who works with others and smells something fishy. Document the fish. Document the smell. Document the hint of a smell. Document the state of your nasal passages that morning. It’s like fire insurance. If no fire happens, then ok, it was a waste. If there is a fire however…
About two years ago, I have proposed the creation of a worldwide alliance of former Catholic seminarians to (1) assist in the works of the Church, (2) campaign for vocations through our actions/apostolates, (3) act as a support fraternal association to priests and seminarians. For more details you could read the article below.
(Alliance of Christian Ex-Seminarians)
By Pian PETER MARLON H. EXMUNDO, CPA
Since the last half of the 1990’s I had proposed to some Pians to unify with other Catholic ex-seminarians from other ecclesiastical religious and diocesan seminaries. Though most of them (some of whom are Geoffrey Martinez, Ronald Acolola, Rafael Ibarreta, Noel Baterna Yap, and Nolmart Gimeno) had agreed in principle for the formation of this group, especially those who studied in the University of Sto. Tomas Department of Ecclesiastical Studies wherein they were able to interact with other non-Pian seminarians, however they suggested that we should focus first in strengthening the unity of the Pians and in cleaning our house first. On April 20, 1998, during the post funeral mass necrological services for daddy, I brought this matter while talking with Capiz Archbishop Onesimo Gordoncillo and some priests who concelebrated daddy’s funeral mass. They agreed in principle to the objectives of forming this group, but it must be done by a lay ex-seminarian. On September 8, 2004 and September 9, 2004 I talked with Bishops Jose Advincula Jr. of San Carlos and Vicente Navarra of Bacolod respectively, and they agreed to its objectives and had even offered some of their suggestions. On September 26, 2004, I met the Executive Director of the Region 6 Office of the Civil Service Commission, Rufino Leonoras or Nong Pinoy, who is a distant relative, in Tapaz while auditing the HRMO of Tapaz. I proposed to him the formation of this group when I learned that he is an ex-seminarian, to which he agreed in principle and requested me to put it in writing so that he could study it.
It took me several years to find the inspiration for this article and it was precipitated by my reflection on the golden anniversary of the Seminary of St. Pius X, which I titled “Quadrivium” (Cross Road) and released on the glorious resurrection of our Lord on April 8, 2007 after about six months of extensive research and reflection.
On 10 April 2007 I gave Nong Pinoy a copy of this reflection and explained it to him what is it. He asked me to make my objectives clearer. Since Quadrivium is addressed principally addressed to the Pians and to other ex-seminarians only generally, he suggested that the proposal must be addressed to all ex-seminarians. It is then that I decided to write this proposal. I originally decided to include a large part from that reflection for this article or proposal is extracted. However, intervening events made me decide to refer to some parts of that reflection in passing and allow the reader to refer to it if he pleases.
II. THE TRAITS THAT BIND US
“The seminary years are devoted to formation and discernment. Formation, as you well know, has different strands which converge in the unity of the person: it includes human, spiritual and cultural dimensions. Its deepest goal is to bring the student to an intimate knowledge of the God who has revealed his face in Jesus Christ. Such study can at times seem arduous, but it is an indispensable part of our encounter with Christ and our vocation to proclaim him. All this is aimed at shaping a steady and balanced personality, one capable of receiving validly and fulfilling responsibly the priestly mission. The seminary years are a time of journeying, of exploration, but above all of discovering Christ. It is only when a young man has had a personal experience of Christ that he can truly understand the Lord’s will and consequently his own vocation.” (Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the seminarians in Cologne – Saint Pantaleon on Friday, 19 August 2005, during the XX World Youth Day)
This speech of Pope Benedict XVI sums up the various decrees concerning ecclesiastical seminaries, and defines what seminarians are regardless of the type (diocesan or religious) and level (minor or major, which is further subdivided into philosophical and theological) of seminary we studied in.
Aside from the nature of the discipline, training, and studies we have undergone as seminarians what further distinguish us from other alumni are the legalities which govern the regulation and governance of the seminaries. As I have mentioned in paragraph 3 of Part IX of Quadrivium (Relationship With The Hierarchy), though an alumni association is an association composed of former (preferably) graduates of an educational institution, it (a seminary association) is not an “ordinary” alumni association because the seminary is not an ordinary educational institution created and incorporated solely under national laws and regulated by the appropriate government agencies such as the Department of Education and the SEC, but was also created under the laws of the Church and regulated by the Vatican, which is a sovereign state independent of the Philippine government or any government thereat, and administered by the bishop through his priests. Further, its purpose is not only to “educate” but also to train boys and young men for the presbytery and the future leaders of the Church — regardless of the motive of the seminarian for studying there. Because of its nature, former seminarians have special and closer relationships with the hierarchy and the activities of the association cannot be divorced from them. This is the bond which binds the lay ex-seminarians with the hierarchy (the ordained ex-seminarians).
The training, discipline, studies, purpose of our education, the legalities governing the institution of the seminaries, and our relationship with the hierarchy or the ordained ex-seminarians are the common traits which bond each ex-seminarian (ordained and lay). These common traits overrules the superficial differences which distinguish us from each other such as: (1) the language or vernacular commonly spoken among the seminarians and their folk; (2) the dominant culture and beliefs in the seminary; (3) the provincial, regional, diocesan, and/or national character and location and groupings of the seminaries and the seminarians; and (4) other differences.
III. DEFINITION OF WHAT IS AN EX-SEMINARIAN
When I presented this proposal to Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo on May 20, 2007, and to the Vicar General of Capiz, Msgr. Vicente Hilata, on May 23, 2007, their common reactions to the composition of this proposed group, is that it will be made up of persons who are not members of the clergy. Because of this, I would like to echo what I have written in Quadrivium as follows:
“Under our by-laws an ex- or former seminarian is defined as “anybody who had studied and stayed in the Seminary of St. Pius X for at least one year.” Some would like to liberalize this definition by dropping the phrase “for at least one year”, which I beg to disagree. Nevertheless, this definition does not distinguish who is a lay ex-seminarian or a priest, what is important is that he had studied and stayed in SSPX for at least one year — or for some, even for only one day. Meaning as long as one has met this definition he is an ex-seminarian whether he became a priest or not.
This definition of what an ex-seminarian is apparently unique to us Pians. Two former non-Pian ex-seminarians, one from St. Vincent Seminary in Jaro, Iloilo City and another from the Sacred Heart Seminary in Bacolod City limit this definition to those who did not become priests. It seems some Pian priests share this definition. For me, the definition under the by-laws is the correct one. Our founding national president, Atty. Ceferino “Doy” Patiño, who incidentally was one of those who drafted the by-laws, defended this definition by saying that anybody who studied in a seminary for a minimum period (one year) so that he could immerse in the spirit of the seminary community and form friendships with his contemporaries, becomes a seminarian, therefore once he later left it he becomes an ex-seminarian, whether or not he graduated from it and for whatever reason.
Therefore, by this definition the members of the hierarchy, including the Pope, are also ex-seminarians. The only difference between “lay” ex-seminarians and the hierarchy is that they were the few “chosen” by the Holy Spirit among the many who were “called”. Thus, we could also call the hierarchy as “ordained” ex-seminarians. Another reason why I prefer this “loose” definition is to accommodate those who were ordained but later on decided to join the rank of the laity (former priests) and those who decided to remain as religious brothers in a religious order.”
My talk with Archbishop Lagdameo was brief, thus I was not able to discuss with him the above definition. Luckily, partly because of our friendship and our common identity as Pians, I had a long discussion with Msgr. Hilata regarding this matter. Though he agreed with the above definition, he is uncomfortable with the suffix “ex” as something that was “ex”tricated or removed from the source. So we simply agreed to find a better term that can be commonly assigned to all former seminary students regardless whether they were ordained or not, or ordained but later on decided to live as laymen.
IV. OBJECTIVES OF THE ALLIANCE
In my discussion with some priests, bishops, Pians, and other ex-seminarians, I have mentioned to them the following objectives for the formation of this group:
1. Better economic opportunities (employment and business) — We are aware that lots of ex-seminarians are successful in their careers who could assist the less fortunate among us. Among us, Geoffrey Martinez has helped a lot of Pians when he hired them in his company. The last executive director of the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT), the precursor of the World Trade Organization (WTO), was an ex-seminarian.
2. Better networking opportunities — If some companies will almost immediately hire us by the mere knowledge that we are ex-seminarians, how much more if the owner is an ex-seminarian himself or a sibling or parent of one. This has been the case with Caritas Health Shield. Some companies are made up of people from the same fraternities and/or sororities. We could do the same with ours. This is the same with other institutions and organizations, including the military, the police and the government. If we will examine closely the socio-civic organizations another reason why they could entice or recruit new members and why majority of their members actively participate in their activities is the networking opened to them and the economic opportunities that follow.
3. Closer ties — To save money on lodging I sometimes stay in the seminary or in the rectory in places where I don’t have a close friend or relative, including the residences of the bishops of Bacolod and San Carlos (in 2004). I could not have done it if I don’t know the priests and the bishops and if they don’t trust me. Some Pians were able to forge partnerships with other ex-seminarians simply because they are ex-seminarians. This will also benefit the globe-trotters, when they could find a hospitable home and company abroad.
4. Better participation in governance — In the provinces of Capiz, Aklan, and Romblon a number of Pians have won in the elections. Though they may have won on their own and some other factors, the assistance extended to them by the Pians in their locality cannot be and were not disregarded. After they have won they tried their best to live and introduce in their positions and to those who are under them the Pian ideals. If we could do this in our own localities, we could replicate it in other localities if there is enough unity and strength among the ex-seminarians living there who are not inhibited by their baronial prejudices. In this way, they could be instrumental in forging a more just and moral society as taught by the Church.
5. More vocations — We are aware that at least eight out of nine seminarians will not become a priest. If this ratio will be similar in each batch and each seminary, we could say that there will be more seminarians who will become priests in a batch if the number of seminarians in that batch is bigger. We have already seen this trend in SSPX over the past fifteen years. But what will trigger or encourage more young men to enter the seminarian you may ask. As ex-seminarians, we know that “becoming a priest” though the usual reason given is just one of the “real” reasons why a parent wants his/her son to enter the seminary. If parents and boys will realize that it “pays” to be an ex-seminarian more will enter the seminaries. The preceding four reasons, though how mundane they may be, will trigger this. As I have also mentioned, it will be easier for us to accomplish what we have been trained for of serving our neighbor through apostolates if we have closer ties with other ex-seminarians. This will then increase the visibility and improve the image of the ex-seminarians, thus also improving the image of the Church and the hierarchy which has been badly tarnished by recent scandals. This improvement in the visibility and image will also be instrumental in increasing vocations. Thus, we, by our apostolates and closer ties can become “vocations in action.” Of course, any drastic increase in vocation in the Archdiocese of Capiz will be a terrible headache as to how it can be accommodated considering that more 200 seminarians are now studying in SSPX when it was built to accommodate less than 150, unless a new building is constructed.
Boys and men enter the seminary for a variety of reasons, but networking is one of them because this word has hardly entered the common lexicon, or maybe because we hardly associate the seminary as a possible potential venue for creating a network of future friends and associates. This is due to the fact that the opportunities and reach of the alumni association of the seminary are limited. By creating an alliance of ex-seminarians, we drastically expand the opportunities and reach, and thus the networking capabilities of each ex-seminarian. This expanded networking opportunity could become one of the major reasons for recruitment of candidates to the seminary. While this new reason will look too mundane and will make the entry to the seminary too artificial, it has a great potential of increasing vocations to the priesthood.
The recent May 14, 2007 national and local elections have shown us the urgency of unifying all ex-seminarians. In the senatorial race, the loss of the candidates of the party, Kapatiran, supported by the bishops is mostly due to the lack of awareness of its existence and platform of government. ABA-Ako, the party list supported by the CBCP, loss for the same reason. In the congressional election in the 1st district of Capiz, Alan Celino, a Pian, loss due to the lack of support among Pians and the manipulation of the elections of some politicians and their henchmen. In the local elections in Capiz and Aklan, several Pians loss for one reason or another.
Helping our fellow ex-seminarians (and other persons with similar persuasions) win an election is not enough. After helping them win we have an obligation to morally support them achieve their goals and programs as leaders. Most ex-seminarians who won strayed from the path and have become part of the system instead of reforming the system due to the lack of support from their peers. Therefore, helping them win in an election is only the first step.
In the Philippines, there are over 100 dioceses and archdioceses, most of which have their own seminaries. Let us make the seminary in the Diocese of San Carlos, St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary in Jaro, Iloilo City. and St. Pius X Seminary in Roxas City as references to estimate the number of seminarians in the Philippines. According to Bishop Advincula, the sole seminary in his diocese is a major or preparatory seminary with about 30 seminarians. Last year the seminarians in St. Vincent Ferrer is about 120. For the past few years, the average number of seminarians in St. Pius X is 200. By averaging the number of seminarians in these three seminaries for the sake of simplicity and reference (I hope it’s that simple) the average number of seminarians per seminary is about 116. Multiply this by 100, and there are about 11,600 more or less seminarians in the Philippines alone, not including those in the religious seminaries. From this figure we could already make a rough guess how many ex-seminarians are there in the Philippines (about 500,000 more or less). That is a big resource and force which is simply left untapped.
Oftentimes, after we left the seminary, aside from fulfilling our religious obligations, we often shun the rectory, and only go there on some business, just like other Catholics. As former seminarians, we have a more special relationship with the clergy especially with the priests assigned in our parishes. A relationship that is higher, stronger, and more special than our other fellow parishioners. Because of this we must also establish better and closer relationships with the parish through our apostolates and by giving them our moral support.
However, most of us hardly know each other in the parishes or in the community we live, especially in an urbanized or densely populated place where people hardly know each other. We are only aware of the former seminarians from our alumni associations. Even in this case, there are times when we are not aware of our co-alumnus unless he is living in the same street and we happen to meet him.
I hope with the establishment of this alliance this situation will be greatly reduced under a system I will discuss under part VIII of this letter.
V. THE ROLE OF THE ALUMNI ASSOCIATIONS
By proposing the formation of this alliance, I am not proposing the dissolution of the alumni associations, their identity, affiliations, and independence. The best examples for this kind of framework is the United States of America, the Dominion of Canada, and most of all the European Union.
The United States of America is composed of 50 autonomous states, with state governments with almost similar responsibilities, powers, and authority as that of the federal government. Each state government has its own constitution, 3 branches of government (legislative, executive and justice), set of taxation, laws, and militia. The only differences between the federal and the state governments are in the realm of foreign policy, armed forces, and review of state laws, which are the prerogative of the central government, and other central functions such as the general application of economic policies and others in the entire country and the adjudication of disputes between states.
The 27 members (and counting) of the EU are sovereign states, which have their own armed forces, economic and foreign policies, and previously, their own currencies (that is, for most of the states). Of course, as the EU is slowly integrating, some of the powers and prerogatives of the states are being surrendered to the European Commission, the governing body of the EU. Even then, these nations will try to maintain their sovereignty on certain matters, such as the form of their own governments.
The proposed group could learn from these two entities on how to define the role of each alumni association within the alliance. However, one function which cannot be removed from each association is the authentication of the identification of each member. This function will be too cumbersome for the alliance to assume unless a computerized system can be established.
VI. VARIOUS MEANS OF APOSTOLATES
Whether unintentionally or not most socio-civic organizations and other like minded organizations and institutions seemed to be guided the Sacred Scriptures on what to do.
In the Gospel of Matthew (25:34-40, 45), Jesus said, “Come, blessed of my Father! Take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world, for:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me into your house
I was naked and you clothed me
I was sick and you visited me,
I was in prison and you come to see me.
Then the good people will ask him: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food; thirsty and give drink, or a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to see you?’ The King will answer, ‘Truly, I say to you: whenever you did this to these little ones who are my brothers and sisters, you did it to me. Truly, whenever you did not do for one these little ones, you did not do for me.”
Isaiah 58:7-8, 10 also stated:
Fast by sharing your food with the hungry,
bring to your house the homeless,
clothe the one you see naked and
do not turn away from your kin.
Then will your light will break forth as the dawn and your healing come in a flash. Your righteousness will be your vanguard, the Glory of Yahweh your rearguard. If you share your food with the hungry and give relief to the oppressed, then you will rise in the dark, your night will be noon.
These Biblical exhortations are very evident in the endeavors of socio-civic groups like: Free legal assistance; leadership training; providing food and clothing; dental and medical missions; promotion of peace and understanding; educational assistance; relief to those affected by natural and man-made calamities; safeguarding the sanctity of the ballots, and so on.
To these the CBCP added the following (In the Pastoral Exhortation for the Year of Social Concerns, Building A Civilization Of Love, issued on May 11, 2006):
1. Family associations for justice and peace;
2. Education and formation sessions and study weeks on Catholic Social Teachings;
3. Bantay-dagat, bantay-kalikasan movements
4. Anti-corruption programs;
5. Livelihood programs;
6. Training programs for good governance;
7. Formation programs for good citizenship;
8. Election monitoring, voters’ education
9. Research-based social and political advocacies.
Such tasks are some of the steps to build a civilization of love. They may seem small and insignificant, but without doubt they build hope. And the ripple effect of hope is incalculable. “Christian hope generates confidence in the possibility of building a better world” (Compendium, 579).
Accordingly, St. Pius X stated that “The field of Catholic Action is extremely vast. In itself it does not exclude anything, in any manner, direct or indirect, which pertains to the divine mission of the Church. Accordingly one can plainly see how necessary it is for everyone to cooperate in such an important work, not only for the sanctification of his own soul, but also for the extension and increase of the Kingdom of God in individuals, families, and society; each one working according to his energy for the good of his neighbor by the propagation of revealed truth, by the exercise of Christian virtues, by the exercise of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Such is the conduct worthy of God to which Saint Paul exhorts us, so as to please Him in all things, bringing forth fruits of all good works, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” [Il Fermo Proposito – On Catholic Action in Italy – 11 June 1905]
Lastly, the 265th Pope, Benedict XVI, stated in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est, “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity. So they cannot relinquish their participation “in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good.” The mission of the lay faithful is therefore to configure social life correctly, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling their own responsibility. Even if the specific expressions of ecclesial charity can never be confused with the activity of the State, it still remains true that charity must animate the entire lives of the lay faithful and therefore also their political activity, lived as “social charity”.
One of the most common hindrances in undertaking an apostolate or any work of charity is the financial cost of doing one. There are two “popular” means of raising funds. The first is “FMP” or From My Pocket, which is one way of nicely and suavely saying that the funding for a project comes from the pocket of the proponents. This scheme is popular among more affluent organizations with affluent members like Kiwanis, Rotary, and Lions. The second is “OPM” or Other People’s Money, which is one way of nicely and suavely saying that the funding for a project comes from solicitations and other means to generate or raise funds from non-members. This scheme is popular among less affluent organizations with less affluent members like the Jaycees and Haribon. A subclassification of this scheme is what we may call as “GGM” or Government and/or Grant Money if the funding either comes from the government and its subsidiaries or from a philanthropic or any financing institution or foundation which gives grants or lends money at very low (usually less than the current market rate) interest rate with other perks that the institution may generously offer to the beneficiary.
The first scheme is the easiest to implement and does involve a lot of hassle. All the proponents have to do is get their money from their pockets or write a check, and voila, the project is funded. However, this scheme is sustainable only if most if not all the members are rich who have lots of disposable money to give away.
The second scheme entails lots of work, time, energy, ingenuity, guts, and patience. Sometimes, despite of all these the fund raising project can’t generate enough profit to adequately fund the charitable project. Worse, some projects are losing propositions and could not compensate for the efforts of the members.
The third scheme does not entail a lot of effort. But, because the money of the government or a private or semi-private (like the World Bank) institution is being solicited, it entails lots of negotiations, red tapes, horse-trading, and monitoring of the grantee’s project by the grantor to ensure that its money is being used properly and for the purpose for it was intended. There are grantors that do limit their “monitoring” on the grantees’ projects. Some would even interfere in the management of grantees. A hidden danger in this scheme is that the grantee may be tainted by the grantor if the later may be proven to be not as reputable as it is purported to be or if one of the officers or its board undertake a questionable action that could affect the good name of the grantor. The highly publicized scandals that had affected several grantees, including the Church, in the past are valuable lessons we should bear in mind.
All three schemes are not only tiresome they are not also sustainable. We have enough experience of all these schemes in our fund raising projects for the seminary to validate this statement and observation.
One of the organizations that have been able to solve this recurring problem is the Focolare Movement, which has devised a program that made the organization self-sufficient thus freeing itself from raising funds from elsewhere for its projects while at the same time providing employment and economic opportunities and benefits for its members and the community, thereby transforming it as another apostolate. I would like to share with you this program that I have copied from its website.
The Economy of Communion (EOC) also known as Economy of Sharing was launched by Chiara Lubich in Brazil in 1991 and now involves hundreds of business enterprises all over the globe.
The entrepreneurs who freely adhere to this project choose to align their business philosophy with the guidelines promoted by a culture of sharing as opposed to a culture of having. Profits are divided into three portions, each of which is equally important, namely:
to help persons in difficulty — starting from those who share the spirit of the initiative — by creating new jobs and assisting them in their basic needs;
to spread the “culture of giving” and of love, without which it would not be possible to make the Economy of Communion a reality;
to develop the business, keeping it profitable and open to a spirit of giving.
The economy of communion works to stimulate the passage of the economy and the whole society from a culture of having to a culture of the giving.
The business leaders follow personnel selection criteria and a program of professional development that makes it easy for these workers to establish such an atmosphere. Recognizing that the human person is at the center of the enterprise, the business leaders create opportunities for continuous learning and updating to enable the individual to achieve personal and corporate objectives.
The work of the enterprise provides a means for the self-fulfillment of all its members. The enterprise complies with the law and maintains ethical dealings with tax authorities, regulatory agencies, labor unions, and all such institutions.
In the same way, the business leaders behave legally and ethically in dealings with its own employees.
In establishing the quality standards of its own products and services, the enterprise feels bound not only by its contractual obligations but also by an assessment of the objective impact that the quality of its products and services has on the well-being of intended customers.
VIII. NATURE AND ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE ALLIANCE
Though I have conceived the formation of this group over the past 10 years, I am still having a difficulty what this group will look like. I tried to examine the organizational set up of some groups like the Opus Dei. As we are aware by now, our awareness of this group was intensified by the publication of a novel and the showing of a movie with the same title. The Times magazine wrote an article about them. Aside from these materials I had a “close encounter” with some of them. We are aware that the Opus Dei has three kinds of membership: the clergy, the numinaries, and the supernuminaries (please forgive me if I might have committed an error regarding this). Aside from these types of membership, they follow a prescribed discipline, not unlike with most religious order. Their organization structure is also simple. We could therefore not use them as an example for the future organizational set-up of the alliance.
Unlike the Opus Dei which is similar with most religious order as it must submit to the supervision of the Vatican and is composed of persons who adhere to its discipline, I have envisioned the alliance as a loose and broad union of alumni associations of diocesan and religious seminaries, including the clergy and the bishops. Unlike the members of the alumni associations of diocesan seminaries, who are attached mostly to their diocesan seminaries, the members of an alumni association of a religious seminary are attached to the religious order supervising the seminary he studied in, because most religious orders operate at least one seminary in each country where they are allowed to minister. The Order of Preachers, for example, has at least two in the Philippines alone.
With regards to the governance of this alliance, there will be at least four levels of officers in terms of locality and jurisdiction: national, regional, provincial or diocesan, municipal or parochial. In case we could successfully launch this alliance internationally, which I believe we could, the topmost level is the international office.
The parish rectory will also play a special role. It will be the basic information center of the former seminarians residing therein, the focal point for the apostolates of former seminarians under the spiritual guidance of the parish priest. For this purpose a unit shall be established in the parish level, similar to other religious organizations. This shall not preclude and conflict with any organizational unit an alumni association may establish in a community where it has enough members.
Establishing this alliance will take time because of its broadness and looseness. Just like any organizations it will experience birth pains, such as skepticism and opposition from some quarters. I have already conditioned myself for its eventual stillbirth. However, by God’s will and grace I am confident its conception will takes its full term giving birth to a healthy baby, who will grow up inspired by the Holy Spirit, because the purpose of its establishment is not for my own self or any body’s or group’s interest but for the good of our Mother Church and her children.
To make this endeavor a success let us not allow ourselves be hindered by focusing and emphasizing our regional, national, and/or cultural differences, but let us make our common traits (our training, discipline, studies, and the purpose of our seminary education, the legalities governing the institution of the seminaries, and our special relationship with the hierarchy or the ordained ex-seminarians) encourage and propel us in uniting with each other in solidarity with our Church leaders under the guidance of the Divine Paraclete.
For “it is quite ironic that while the world is becoming more borderless, when nationalism is becoming less important when internationalism and universal brotherhood is becoming the norm, when the Church under the leaderships of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI are forging closer ties with our other Christian and non-Christian brethren, and when communication has become more fast pace and easier, we have decided to highlight our cultural differences from them than what have in common, thus remaining baronial, parochial, and isolated.” (Twinning, An Effective Tool In Collective Apostolates, Part X of Quadrivium)
Each alumni association is a small glow or flame in the night. Its light is not so bright it could only illumine a very small area and will hardly warm a hand. A breeze could easily extinguish it. However, if all seminary alumni associations will combine we could make a bonfire to illumine a bigger area and drive away the cold, that it will take a fierce wind to extinguish it.
If we are walking alone in a forest or along an unknown road our flame will not be enough to lighten the path and we are defenseless against any vagabond that may attack us or block our journey. However, if we are walking together our torches can drive away the dark wide enough for us to see farther. In case of danger we could easily defend each other easier and frighten or defeat any intruder.
May the Archangel Rafael, the patron saint and guardian of travelers, guide and protect us in our journey.
Given on the feast of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the 27th of May 2007, Pentecost Sunday, in the Rectory of St. Jerome, Tapaz, Capiz.
Pian PETER MARLON H. EXMUNDO, CPA
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR. The author is an alumnus of the Seminary of St. Pius X in Roxas City, Philippines. He is connected with the Sangguniang Bayan of Tapaz as Local Legislative Staff Officer V, and partly practicing his profession as Certified Public Accountant in Tapaz, with a branch office in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.
If it isn’t clear by now it should be; there are exceptions to the rule but basically CPE is about indoctrination in liberal/left theology, politics, and social ethics and what good can be gained comes only with a careful and thorough sifting of all of the above for the grain of truth.
If you are an observant or traditional Christian you will be attacked in CPE simply for being such. This, of course, will be presented as therapeutic and important for your “growth” but it’s an eye opening revelation of the iron fist under the velvet glove of tolerance.
Go if you must but be prepared for attacks and ready to endure. You will be accused of being “sexist”, “homophobic”, and subjected to pseudo-psychological rants by people whose own spiritual and theological acumen is to say it kindly, sketchy. Consider it a gauntlet you must run and consider the bruises as marks of honor.
The world of medical chaplaincy is a sinkhole of platitudes filled with the lukewarm swamp water of mainline protestant thought. The folks in charge of it consume gallons of the stuff every day and they want you to drink it as well. I did four units of CPE and one of a CPE alternative in urban ministry and that I made it through is a tribute to the power of grace.
Just be careful out there folks.
One word on seminaries and CPE: “follow the money”.
Hey Peter Marlon: Next time post a link. Do you really think anyone is going to read a multi-thousand word blog comment?
I may not be a Pian but I do agree with you. I finished my Seconadry Classical Course Batch 1965 from St. Vincent Ferrer, in Jaro. It is about time for us to unite ourselves as former seminarians and helping one another. I am proud to be an alumnus of the seminary.