Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - He lives his mission in complete dedication and in listening to young student priests from all over the world, who spend part of their vocation in Rome, for theological studies. This is what Fr. Lisandro Rivas Duran tells Agenzia Fides, Venezuelan member of the Missionaries of the Consolata, Rector of the Pontifical College of Saint Paul for seven years. The College, inaugurated by St. Paul VI on December 3, 1965 (liturgical memory of St. Francis Xavier), is an institute placed under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples which has the purpose of training priests of the "territories of mission", according to the needs of their dioceses, organizations or Congregations of origin.
Fr. Lisandro Rivas Duran, Rector since 2014, presents the life of the College to Fides starting with the first welcome, which students receive upon their arrival from all corners of the world. "The priests destined for Saint Paul's College to study in Rome pass through this door. Here they will follow their training course. It is a door of reception. It opens physically but also opens the door to our heart. We accompany them on this journey thanks to a team of collaborators. More than 190 priests from the territories of Propaganda Fide (in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Oceania) live in the College, who stay to study in Rome between 3 to 5 years. During this time, I realized the importance of being by their side, of listening to them, of encouraging them, of watch over their difficulties and of supporting them".
The Rector remarks: "Suddenly leaving one's own reality, changing one's lifestyle, entering a new training course can cause a crisis situation. You have to understand a new culture, get to know a new environment, learn the language. It is a very delicate moment for a young priest. Accompaniment and support for these new generations of priests becomes decisive because this experience will mark them for their entire life. I am their elder brother for them and I am available for all their needs, whatever they may be".
The passion with which Fr. Rivas Duran dedicates himself to his students makes them feel, during their stay in Rome, inserted into "a big family", characterized by human and spiritual bonds which are born and are reinforced because all daily life is shared.
The Rector adds: "When, once they have finished their studies, they leave the College, they often call me and tell me that they feel nostalgia for Saint Paul's College.This surprises and comforts me because, in this College, there is a sense of belonging: it cannot be bought but learned and experienced. Thus we seek, with the grace of God and by cultivating fraternity, to render a good service to the local Churches all over the world". (MI) (Agenzia Fides, 9/1/2021)