IRISH JESUIT SAYS MAYNOOTH IS NOW LONGER FIT FOR PURPOSE.

Moves towards a parish-based ‘apprenticeship’ model of priestly formation would mean the end of the national seminary at Maynooth, a former professor at the college has said.

Calling for prospective clergy to study theology in Trinity College Dublin rather than at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Boston College’s Prof. Oliver Rafferty SJ told The Irish Catholic that any parish-based formation model in Ireland would “almost inevitably” have to be focused on Dublin.

“It seems to me that the hierarchy ought to make arrangements with the Department of Theology at Trinity College,” he said. “I know that will strike terror into the hearts of some, but there is a vibrant theological faculty at Trinity, augmented a number of years ago by the Loyola Institute, which specifically aimed to bring Catholic theology into the department at Trinity.”

Fr Rafferty – a former Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Maynooth – comments come following observations from Killaloe’s Bishop Fintan Monahan that parish-based formation could be more practical than current formation methods and would give student priests valuable experience of working side-by-side with laypeople and experienced clergy. Such a model is one possibility up for consideration by a committee tasked with revising the programme of priestly formation in Ireland.

If Ireland’s bishops seriously want to try a parish-based model of priestly formation, it would inevitably mean that Maynooth would effectively “be finished as a training centre for parish seminarians”, Prof. Rafferty said.

“It’s clear that the bishops want to move away from the old idea of seminary formation, and once they do that, if that is what they have decided, then obviously the consequence that flows from that is abandoning Maynooth as a seminary,” he said, adding that while seminaries have worked well in the past as a way of training priests they may not be well-suited to contemporary challenges.

“As an institution for forming priests, I think seminaries may have seen their day,” he said.

Cautioning against emphasising pastoral formation to the detriment of academic formation, however, he said that seminarians need “rigorous exposure” to the academic aspects of theology.

“Apart from anything else, in a society where the laity are increasingly educated, it would be a paradox to say the least if you had in general laity who were better educated than the clergy,” he said.

PAT SAYS

Of course we know that Maynooth should be closed – even at this stage over the homosexual activity there.

But Father Rafferty also says that the seminary method is outdated.

He may be right?

It would be very healthy for seminarians to study both philosophy and theology in the company of lay students, Male and female.

They would be aso be exposed to wider philosophies and theologies than purely classical philosophy and theology.

Such 6 years of study would also help seminarians to explore their sexuality in a plural environment and make a better decision about celibacy.

The fact that would live in parishes would expose them to everyday issues and parish liturgy and sacraments.

But however, there remains one big issue to resolve – the issue of spirituality/prayer.

It is quite clear that seminarians were given no lasting spirituality and prayer life in Maynooth.

They have to learn to have a prayer and spiritual life that will last when they live alone in parishes.

One way to achieve this would be for priest and people in every parish that becomes a Basic Christian Community in which laity, priests and religious nourish each other spiritually.

They could pray daily together, worship daily and weekly together, engage on regular guided retreats and make pilgrimages together.

The monastic model is not suitable for secular priesthood.

It all has to be retaught.

46 thoughts on “IRISH JESUIT SAYS MAYNOOTH IS NOW LONGER FIT FOR PURPOSE.

  1. Pat, you are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Maynooth has been done to death, its’ name now being tiresome and boring. Wish you would relearn basic Christian charity, prayer and spirituality. You present as the virtuous icon. That you most certainly are not! Bishops don’t need your advice.

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  2. A yr right here hi In a sense the world of thauld testament was fulfilled but not outdated because Jesus came. The Seminary system is outdated caus all it does is preserve the clerical classes without thinking of the people who have drifted off down the river. Many clergy don’t know what their purpose is and some fiddle while Rome burns but. Much official church is a part of society but not necessarily part of a lived faith. Comon superpriest wave thauld shamrock hi Show us the Trinity and not just the leprechauns but

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  3. This will not address the fundamental problem in the institutional Roman Catholic Church, but is the equivalent of moving unpalatable ‘veg’ around on a plate (to give the impression of at least having tasted them), in order to avoid offending a host.
    Location for priestly training isn’t the cause of malformation, but a warped, anti-biblical theology of priesthood most certainly is.
    Jesus Christ! Why does everyone, including you Bishop Pat, miss this stinking elephant in the room?

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  4. The problem being studying theology in Trinity College. No doubt its probably off the wall and filled with heterodox/ecumenical nonsense

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    1. Have you studied theology at Trinity?
      If not, then rein in your imagination.

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    2. Fly On Th Wall 31st Mar 2019 — 8:33 pm

      Now 12ho 9 hi Which denomination of Criistianity did Jesus belong to How, do you reconcile Eastern n Western Church What about the miniseries of Peter n Paul. Ecumenical or what but

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  5. A simple solution would be to do away with philosophy requirement. A degree in theology ought to be enough. The term training should be 3 years in an ‘institution’ and stay in the ‘institution’ for 4 nights per week. Then parish work each weekend and every summer. Simple. As it stands bishops don’t give a xxxx about seminarians until they’re deacons. It’s not all the fault of seminaries you know. For years, Irish bishops left it up to seminarians to paddle their own respective cannoes for the summer months, and while I’m at it, Vocations directors are no better. It ought to be their role to ensure there is placements for seminarians in parishes.

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    1. 12:45
      Why the opposition to philosophy? It’s not all ancient or medieval wisdom, but has modern relevance, too.
      Paul took on the Athenians in the areogabus, literally for hours, and among them were epicurean and stoic philosophers.
      The spiritual element in priesthood is, of course, of utmost importance, but so, too, is a good intellectual grounding in schools of thought (philosophies) that offer alternatives to Christian ideas, or outright opposition to them. One, particularly strident philosophy today is the kind of militant atheism advanced by Prof Richard Dawkins, and it needs to be debated. Before it can be debated, however, it must be studied. To rule out philosophical training for priesthood is intellectually shortsighted, and may place future priests at a disadvantage.

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      1. Wikipedia alert folks

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    2. There is something to what you say, especially now that many applicants may have third-level education. That’s the system in the Church if Ireland – a three year course which also gives them a master’s degree.

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    3. @12.45
      If they are trying to make sure young seminarians are not raped or corrupted by older ones and staff then 4 nights puts them in just as much danger. THAT’S why they have to cut off that danger completely.

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  6. No great surprise in the arguments presented by Fr. Rafferty. Many priests have been saying the same for many years. However much we learned in the seminary, and much of it was goid, it was never adequate or enough for today’s society. There’s a new learning that occurs almost immediately once you begin in a parish. We priests are always learning. No one can teach you everything in prayer, spirituality or pastoral sensitivity. The most important learning for me takes place in every new situation. Prayer and spirituality are attitudes and practices you learn as you go through life. I received a reasonably good foundation in seminary in the late 70’s but my faith, prayer, theology and spirituality are completely changed over the years. Seminary formation is goid to a point, but because of rapidly changing times, expectations and secularism, it is imperative that any preparation for ministry is done in a more relevant and meaningful way. Living in parishes would be a good starting point, relevant contemporary psychology, a prayer, spiritual and programmes in human development are necessary requisites. But the real learning comes from the inner desire to be Christ and grow in his ways…..

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    1. 7:59

      The last sentence of your post is a pious, laudable (one might say ‘prayerful’) aspiration. And to pursue it requires singular loyalty to Christ, both in trying to follow his will through Scripture, through others, and through conscience.

      And yet, you vowed to obey a bishop, and his successors, at your ordination. How can this be squared with singular loyalty to Christ, the only, and necessary, requirement for becoming one with him?

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      1. Magna at 11.39: Why are you always the provocateur so unnecessarily? My point at 7.59 is sensible, true, intelligible and reasonable. IT IS POSSIBLE – though you cannot believe so – for me to place loyalty to Christ before loyalty to my Bishop. Do you think I’m a fool? My life is not built on the quicksand of loyalty to a bishop. It is built on my loyalty to CHRIST. How else could I survive being a priest? You can argue philosophically all you like and try to persuade me with silly arguments, but I know my life, I know my conscience: I know where my loyalty lies and it’s not to any one wearing a mitred hat! Your problem is that, since you were not allowed to be a priest, you cannot visualise what it’s like to be a priest and therefore you cannot speak for any one of us. My vow of obedience to my bishop does not preclude loyalty to Christ first and foremost. But, as I said, you need to be a priest to understand this truth and reality! Now, believe me: I hope I won’t have to repeat again……

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      2. 11.39: Magna, I have absolutely no difficulty in my loyalty to Christ through studying scripture, through prayer, through my conscience. I never had any conflict about where my loyalty lies, despite vowing obedience to my bishop. I have no equivocation about the person to whom I give my loyalty. None. Deciding the virtue of loyalty/fidelity is not a difficulty for me: Christ. My only problem/challenge is sustaining my loyalty, thus my need for constant prayer. I believe I speak for the vast majority of priests. Trust me. I think you cannot comprehend this truth I speak because you are NOT a priest.

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    2. 4:23
      Do you call everyone who disagrees with you a ‘provocateur’? This, and other such would-be conversation stoppers, are really the mark of the insecure, and the tyrannical. Of those who want only THEIR opinions heard and respected. Welcome to the world of debate.😆
      My question is legitimate, and your conflicted answer to it unsatisfactory. You made a vow to obey a man on the assumption that he spoke, as it were, for Christ. Yet we know that this is not always true. Only yesterday I watched a video on YouTube about children in a home for the deaf in Italy, and the clerical/religious paedophile ring that either ran it, or exploited it. One of these, a bishop, alledgedly committed a serious sexual assualt on one of the young deaf boys, farmed out to him by a priest. The boy was a ‘pretty’ child, and the bishop was thrilled. So thrilled, in fact, that he, after forcing the child to masturbate him, attempted to insert a banana into the boy’s anus while cradling him in his arms. This bishop is now deceased, and (here’s the best bit) there is already a movement underway to have him declared ‘venerable’. They even have a bronze bust of him erected in a church, to which is attached a box for donations to, er, advance his cause for canonisation.
      You made a vow to obey a man rather than the man-god, and no amount or degree of abuse or lying directed at me (‘since you were not allowed to be a priest’) can change that.
      How do you know that I was not ordained? Have you any evidence for your statement, ‘Father’? Or is it that, like other priests who post here, you justify to yourself the odd calumny…as long as it is about Magna?😆

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      1. 5.44: Magna, I don’t have to prove anything to you, to my bishop, to anyone but to CHRIST. My ordination to the priesthood by my bishop does not and never did stop me from being faithful to CHRIST. You have the problem in understanding, I don’t. I am very clear about my priorities, very clear in my conscience. You, Magna, doth protesteth too much, always with the intent of belittling others. You will never disturb my faith, prayer, moral integrity, spiritual depth or my ministry (in Christ only) by your abusive, ugly rants against priests. If you ask questions in a respectful manner, I will respond likewise! I am very aware of the need to rethink and re-evaluate the concept of priesthood: I realise the diminishment of its’ meaning by the abuses carried out, the cover ups and the revelations of moral debauchery (today’s gospel word) by many in positions of power. That disturbs me very deeply. Thus, I know only too well my need of God’s grace, every moment of every day. Worry about your own soul and lost opportunities and move on in your life. You’ll eventually learn to be a better person.

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  7. If there’s a vibrant German Department in TCD the move can go ahead.

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  8. It’s an obvious reality that with the low numbers presenting for priesthood that Maynooth seminary is no longer the appropriate place for training. Yes, attend the university for philosophical, theological, and other disciplinary courses but have a relevant prayer/spiritual/human formation programme alongside these studies. Then send men to parishes for 3 years experience of everyday life and ministry. The prayer, faith development, human formation and spiritual growth are a life long process. There are no simple solutions but each seminarian and priest must derply yearn within to grow in Christ. Some achieve this in a profound way, most of us struggle.

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  9. We have known for decades that the present seminary training for priests is not fit for purpose. I guess that dioceses are reluctant to let go of, not just the vast buildings they invested in for seminaries, but the culture out of which so many priests who are now senior priests and bishops were trained in themselves.
    But, change must happen. Training priests in a quasi monastic environment, isolated away from the real Church, single sex environments…..this just is bad ! It encourages a sense of specialness, clericalism, exceptionalism, hierarchy,being set aside etc. etc. All of which we know leads to dysfunction and misbehaviour.
    So, like so many other training programmes in the rest of the society, large parts of the training for priests should take place within the community, with perhaps periods set aside for a more reflective, spiritual time. It should be a training fitted to the needs of the Church in order to produce well-balanced, mature, psychologically, emotionally and sexually adjusted and integrated priests.
    Change to the system of training priests should only be one change the Church needs to undertake – others include married clergy, female clergy, working clergy, lay involvement and a form of leadership which is less hierarchical and clerical etc. etc.
    There’s a lot that needs changing !

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  10. MAGNA AND HIS OPPONENTS
    Yesterday I started not publishing aggressive comments by Magna and others in an effort to make people comment on the topics of the day and stop making Magna the subject of blogs.
    I will continue to do this.

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    1. MournemanMichael 31st Mar 2019 — 11:03 am

      With grateful thanks +Pat
      MMM

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    2. 10.32: Thank you Pat for making that responsible decision: re Magna, Magna and Magna – as he presents under a few (boring, repetitive, provocative) anonymous notes. The abusive miscreant that he is has to be tamed or completely censored, along with the other silly, childish and stupid contributors who offer nothing but abuse and who trivialize all serious issues. I think we’ve had enough of Maynooth….

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      1. Magna posts under only ONE name.
        Why don’t you try addressing his points instead of telling untruths about him? Have the intelligence to go beyond lying, and ad hominem?
        Prove it by addressing any one of his posts above.😆
        Oh! And you won’t ‘tame’ me.😆

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    3. I’ve stopped posting under a name because of the vicious attacks that using a name seems to attract. I’d prefer now just to be anonymous, which is unfortunate because using a name does allow for a continuity to discussion. But not at the price of attracting the opprobrium of the trolls.

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    4. 10.32: Poor auld Mags: being publicly chastised and reprimanded by Pat! About time and hopefully it will calm him down….and take the bitter, ugly, abusive edge off his comments.

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  11. You must be desperate in returning to the subject of Maynooth. Is there anymore to say on this subject that hasn’t been said 10 times over already on this blog?

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    1. It will be a never ending story until it is finally closed and raised to the ground.

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      1. 12:47
        If it’s raised it won’t be to the ground.

        If you’d been lucky enough to have spent a wet weekend in Maynooth, you’d have known the difference.

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      2. Maynooth is also now the seat of a thriving secular university, which offers some theology courses. The bishops blocked theology as a full-scale university subject there about 40 years ago, in different times, but I hope that Maynooth University will take over the theological legacy of the seminary and become a powerful rival to TCD. It’s quite shocking that Catholic third level theological education has been so mismanaged, with so many institutions closing down, that only TCD is left standing.

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  12. I don’t think it will make the slightest bit difference, Bp Pat, they’ll still be gay, that is immutable, and they’ll still be having it off with every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the parish.

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    1. 12.25: I’m presuming you are a master class act at having it off with every Tom, Dick or Harry or might it be every Molly, Josie and Annie…..you pervert.

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  13. There is one thing very surprising about this post – a Jesuit wearing a dog collar. I actually can’t remember the last time I saw that.

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  14. MournemanMichael 31st Mar 2019 — 2:58 pm

    I would agree that a sound philosophical training is a valuable foundation . However I would have many reservations that the prerequisite of a broad prospectus such as Magna suggests would be possible within any RC church dominated establishment.
    MMM

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  15. 2.58: MMM, ever the doubting Thomas! Of course a wide-ranging prospectus is possible. I had it for the duration if my 7 year training – philosophy, arts, psychology, literature, theology, sociology…I’m still learning pastorally and otherwise…..

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  16. Whilst I agree with a lot of what the Jesuit says, I would be concerned that “trainee priests” would pick up the bad habits and attitudes of parish priests ( especially in Down and connor). A lot, not all, of the priests in Down and Connor still thrive on clericalism and are power freaks. Does this model not allow for further clericalism in the making? If there are going to be changes they need to start in Rome and then be filtered down. Regardless of what changes the RC church makes, they will never solve the problem of greed, power and corruption until Christ and not man are at the forefront of this church.

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    1. If anyone will give seminarians it will be priests. It could lead to an even greater rise in the cancer of cynicism.

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      1. 7.46: Give seminarians “what”??? Pat, are you being just cynical, suggestive or plain stupid?

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      2. Pat, I have to agree with Magna most of the time. His opponents here for the most part seem reluctant to stay on topic. He has a very valid point on regarding the dangers of treating the bishop’s word as god’s word. Nobody seems able to validly refute his premise.

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      3. I’m sure, in the case of 9:24, it’s a matter of great minds thinking alike.

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      4. The whole point of seminaries was to inject very high levels of faith, idealism and spirituality into the young men before they went out into the real world of parishes where all of that gradually petered out.

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    2. 6:44
      Bullseye!
      Yes, effective change must come from Rome, especially from lived example.
      The entire, false theology of priesthood (which is at the heart of ecclesial ontology) must change if priesthood is to stop attracting sexual deviants, self-promoters, careerists, etc. Seriously, what draws these types of men to priesthood? It isn’t opportunity for holiness, so it cannot be vocation inspired by God. The answer is obvious: there is something so intrinsically disordered about the concept of priesthood that it continues to draw these misfits, and potential criminals.

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  17. The lastest appointment in England is Bishop Robert Byrne an Oratorian , to Hexam and Newcastle , don’t worry though his sermon tells us everthing , he belives profoundly in being a ‘ listening Church’ we are all ‘ on a journey’ he himself has ‘ been on a journey ‘ Mary went on a journey so that’s a sign , we must listen and listen and then say yes after the listening has stoped, quotes from Pope Francis, the previous Bishop, Cardinal Hume and at the end Newman, so don’t worry there’s no dramatic Second Spring about to break through, it’s strictly business as usual everyone stay as they are except where the church buildings are going to be closed etc. He’s an intelligent man, a scholar and a leader why can’t he teach and shepherd ? Either he can’t or won’t England is the Agnostic centre of Catholicism nothing to say neither traditional or liberal, complete absence of authentic pastoral care by the clergy at any level, by default the lay people are keeping everthing running particularly the Catholic schools which must be about to go the way of the church buildings.

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  18. Pat do you know who went into Suana Babylonia during the Maynooth trip to Prague.

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    1. Trolly Dolly forgot to shut off his snapchat map location.

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