Wednesday, October 26, 2005

We Have Been Visited

The dates of the seminary visitations and the names of the visitors have not been made public, but now that it's over I'm guessing it's OK to say we have been visited here at Weston.

It was a painless process, and fairly unintrusive. I had my interview this morning with a member of the visitation team. It was an enjoyable conversation between two people who are concerned for the future of the Church and for good priestly formation. I felt comfortable being honest, knowing that we were both about the same things, even if not necessarily in agreement on all the particulars.

The questions were all questions related to those on the "instrument," which has been made public, and covered areas from curriculum to liturgy to community life.

I had no sense that this was some kind of witch hunt, like the media has made it out to be (though, by his own admission, Archbishop O'Brien, the head of the visitation, did make a public statement that was misleading). Rather, it seemed a good will attempt to discover what we are already doing well in the formation of priests--which is a lot!--and how we can do better. I have confidence that the report of the visitors will help us to do that. Though I hope we will see that report sooner than last time (reportedly, after the last visitation, we didn't see the report until nearly five years later!).

The Bishop who led the visitation was also kind enough to point out that soon he will be on the other end of the visitation process, as his own seminary will be visited!

The other thing I liked about this visitation as well was that it was an opportunity for the Church to better understand formation in the context of religious life which, since the members of the hierarchy are predominately diocesan clergy, they are not always as aware of as dicoesan seminary formation (e.g. the questions on the instrument are clearly written with a diocesan seminary in mind). Having been in formation for eight years, I know that there are a lot of things that we do well, that others could benefit from knowing! So, my prayer is that this visitation might be of mutual benefit for both us and for our brother priests in the diocesan clergy so that the Church as a whole can benefit from the collective wisdom of the many facets of religious life and priesthood.

Given the energy and anxiety that has surrounded this visitation in recent weeks, I'm also glad it's over (for us, anyway)!

Pray that it will continue to go well as the over 200 seminaries and schools of priestly formation in the U.S. continue to be visited in the course of this academic year.


Blogger Gashwin said...

Well Mark -- glad you survived the witch-hunt. Guess they didn't attempt trial by dunking,eh? :) Thanks for sharing this. Guess it doesn't violate the rules for pontifical secrecy ... :)

12:23 AM  
Blogger angelmeg said...

When they dunk you do they let you wear your little ducky ring thingy?

just wondering?


10:23 AM  
Blogger Niall Mor said...

Hello, Mark. I found your blog via Amy Wellborn's blog. By any chance, did you do graduate work in English at the University of South Carolina in the mid '90s?If so, You may remember me. I was one of your fellow students. God bless you for having the faith and courage to pursue this vocation.

Neil Leslie

10:56 AM  
Blogger Susan Rose, CSJP said...

I'd read somewhere that they were visiting Weston (don't know where) and thought of you.

Thanks for sharing your illuminating perspective. May the visitations indeed have a positive end result for the seminaries and the curch.

1:14 PM  

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