In the past minor seminaries (for high school aged aspirants) had been a wonderful garden wherein priestly and religious vocations blossomed. These centers of Catholic learning were greatly treasured by our bishops but with the subsequent growth of excellent Catholic schools a number of Ordinaries decided that the minor seminaries were no longer necessary.
Sadly, times have changed from those days back in the 50s when we all received an excellent Catholic education and even young lads in high school felt honoured to belong to the “Children of Mary”. We now live in a different world. Many of our so called Catholic schools today leave much to be desired; numerous teachers neither attend weekly mass nor accept the teaching authority of the Church whilst some in the profession openly “live in sin” whilst continuing to teach in a Catholic school with apparent impunity.
What is the point of having these modern Catholic schools, if they do not teach and practice our faith? St Matthew Ch 18 reminds us that Christ had such an abhorrence of scandal that when He spoke of a millstone He was not referring to the small hand stone used by the women in their homes for milling the household flour, rather, He was referring to the huge mill stone (onos mulos) that was so large it required an animal to turn it. Our Lord then says that the person who gives scandal to “one of these little ones who believes in me” should have this almighty millstone tied around his neck and that he should then be cast into the sea. Christ did not approve of bad example. Neither should we.
Vocations Guide to Priesthood
All contemporary surveys indicate that the state of ignorance about Catholicism amongst school-leavers and those under the age of forty across the globe has never been greater. In 2006 Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said “There are clearly deficiencies in the methods of religious education that we have developed. I meet young people who have spent up to ten years attending school based catechetical programmes, and yet enter into life with only a very superficial religious culture” When visiting Melbourne in July 2007 he said “I visit parishes (in Dublin) where I see no one between 14 and 34, and other parishes where there is a small, yet solid and committed group of young people”
Clearly, something is wrong and something needs to be done. So perhaps, the time may have come to once again look at the need to reintroduce minor seminaries. The prudent man may wonder “Why take this step back into the past”? The visionary will ask “Why not”?
Today many object to the concept of minor seminaries because they feel that a boy of such tender years does not have sufficient grasp of what it really means to live as a celibate priest in the modern world. Some are concerned at the high “drop out” rate since a significant number of the entrants do not proceed to the major seminary. Another argument used by opponents is that once the youngster enters the seminary he may feel reluctant to leave even if he wishes to do so.