Yaounde (Agenzia Fides) - "The seminar is a path that allows young people who are called to get closer to Jesus and to turn into him. This journey, although long, is essential for the future priest, so that he can personally respond to Christ's call freely and with conviction, and become, through the Sacrament of Orders, the living image of Jesus Christ, Head, Shepherd and Servant of the Church". These are the words Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, addressed to the approximately 120 seminarians of the Major Seminary in Nkolbisson -Yaoundé, where he went in the afternoon of Tuesday, May 27, at the beginning of his pastoral visit to Cameroon, where he will conclude the centenary of the evangelization of the Archdiocese of Bamenda (see Fides 26/05/2014; 27/05/2014).
The Prefect of the Congregation presided over the solemn vespers in the chapel of the Seminary, and then, in the Lecture Hall, he met the seminarians and their formators.
In his speech, he encouraged the seminarians "to become, joyful witnesses of the Gospel, as highlighted by Pope Francis, 'God's collaborators' in the work of salvation of the human race".
The priest is in fact called to be an "alter Christus, another Christ", and "as a representative of Christ among men, he must realize the transformational journey of his life to become as similar as possible to Christ himself".
"This constant identification with Christ - the Cardinal continued - must be at all levels: human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral. It is fulfilled through prayer, an intense and constant prayer, personal and communal, with Jesus always before one’s eyes as a reference point. The conformation with Christ is nourished with the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation". So thus exhorted them: "work, dear young brothers, for the harmonious integration of all these human, spiritual and intellectual dimensions. They are the ones that will help you shine in pastoral charity, and therefore put yourselves at the service of others".
To be joyful witnesses of the Gospel, coherence and authenticity are needed, rejecting any form of hypocrisy, emphasized Cardinal Filoni, who drew the attention of the seminarians on three points of importance for priestly life: the emotional maturity, detachment from material goods and the spirit of fellowship.
"Dear seminarians - concluded the Cardinal - the prospect of your priesthood is something extraordinary that rewards all the efforts you have asked yourselves over the years of seminary formation. The fruitfulness of your future mission will greatly depend on your union with Christ, the quality of your inner life, human, moral and spiritual values that you assimilated during your formation. Take to heart the ideal of the priest that the Church needs today and will need tomorrow, in relation to the great challenges of evangelization". Finally, he recommended "the seminarians "not to settle for mediocrity", on the contrary "seek examples of priests’ life, whose holiness, love of Christ and of others are faultless and edifying". (SL) (Agenzia Fides 28/05/2014)