Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, this week welcomed fourteen new seminarians to start their training for the priesthood.
The Trustees of the College met yesterday in Maynooth to discuss the needs of the students and staff. They acknowledged the generosity and openness which motivates young men to consider a vocation to the priesthood and to apply themselves to the formation process. The Trustees also paid tribute to the dedication of the staff of the college for their role in formation. The Trustees offered prayers and encouragement for the seminarians and the college staff asking that this will be a time of grace and blessing.
Acknowledging the recent and extensive media coverage regarding the College, and the disquiet that it has caused amongst the faithful, the Trustees emphasise that the Church has clear instructions on the formation of seminarians. It is essential that these are observed in order to form priests “after the heart of the Good Shepherd” (cf. Jer 3.15). There is no place in a seminary community for any sort of behaviour or attitude which contradicts the teaching and example of Jesus Christ.
The Trustees share the concerns about the unhealthy atmosphere created by anonymous accusations together with some social media comments which can be speculative or even malicious. Persons with specific concerns are encouraged to report them appropriately as soon as possible.
- To this end the Trustees will:
– Review current policies and procedures for reporting complaints with a view to adopting best practice procedures for ‘protected disclosures’ (whistle-blowing);
– Request the Seminary authorities to evaluate and review the policy regarding the appropriate use of the internet and social media;
– Assess future personnel and resource needs for the seminary.
- The Trustees will request the Bishops’ Conference to:
– Commission an independent audit and report of governance and statutes in Irish seminaries;
– Progress urgently a uniform national policy for admissions to Irish seminaries;
– Begin planning for the introduction of a propaedeutic year (pre-seminary) for all applicants for priestly training;
– Establish a subcommittee to examine, with relevant consultors and advisors, the pastoral needs of priestly training in contemporary Ireland noting in particular the recent recommendation of Pope Francis: “The presence of lay people, families and especially the presence of women in priestly formation, promotes an appreciation of the diversity and complementarity of the different vocations in the Church” (Joy of Love n. 203);
– Conduct the triennial review of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and of the Pontifical Irish College, Rome, in the Spring of 2017.
The Trustees are satisfied that seminarians are not asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.
The Trustees accept their responsibility for ensuring that the national seminary adheres to best practice in all areas of training for priesthood and that college staff are trained to the highest level in accordance with requisite professional standards and the requirements of the Holy See.