By Fr. Austin Ortinero
Seminary formators, vocation promoters, vicars for clergy in the Philippines together with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) gathered in Cebu for the Conference on the Promotion of the New Guidelines for Priestly Formation called Ratio Fundamentalis Institustionis Sacerdotalis (RFIS). Held last Jan. 21-26 at the International Eucharistic Congress Pavilion, the Conference was attended by 564 priests and lay collaborators including 67 bishops. These represent 76 ecclesiastical territories, 29 religious communities, 22 minor seminaries, 54 philosophy seminaries, and 18 theology seminaries; a total of 94 formation houses.
On-going formation is a must
Priestly formation has 2 basic stages: initial and on-going. The former starts from baptism to the formal seminary formation (minor seminary, propaedeutic stage; discipleship stage or philosophy stage; configuration to Christ stage or theology stage; and the pastoral synthesis stage). The latter begins after ordination until the end of one’s priestly life.
The new ratio highlighted that priestly formation is a singular journey of discipleship and that it is integral, communitarian and missionary. Seminaries are now tasked to draft their formation itinerary.
The necessity of the on-going formation for priests at all levels cannot be ignored, hence each Diocese are to plan their own on-going formation program. The seminar ended by commissioning a group of drafters from the different Dioceses to compose the Ratio Nationalis, a contextualised version of the RFIS.
The Archdiocese of Caceres was represented by Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona, OCD, DD together with 3 priest formators from the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary and 10 priest formators from the Holy Rosary Major Seminary.