“Walk in newness of Life” (Romans 6:4)
Priestly Renewal in Rome
“Permanent formation is a requirement of the priest’s own faithfulness to his ministry,
to his very being.
It is love for Jesus Christ and fidelity to oneself.
But it is also an act of love for the People of God, at whose service the priest is placed”
(Blessed John Paul II, Post Synodal Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, n. 70).
More than 2,600 priests have attended the Institute for Continuing Theological Education of the Pontifical North American College since its inauguration in 1971. The Institute offers two renewal programs for priests each year:
(1) Fall semester: a single twelve-week sabbatical;
(2) Spring semester: four three-week modules (participants may opt for one or a maximum of two modules).
The Institute is an extraordinary opportunity for priests to study, pray and become enlivened disciples of the Lord in a newer and deeper way. The words of Our Lord are addressed to every priest: “Come away by yourselves and rest for a while” (Mk 6:31).
See here for “Dates”.
The Institute was founded in 1971 in response to the call of the Second Vatican Council for the renewal of priests. Fourteen of the sixteen Conciliar documents can be quoted as indicating that continuing education and renewal are important for priests and their ministry. In addition, our program follows suggestions for the ongoing education and renewal of priests especially found in Blessed John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis (“I Will Give You Shepherds”) and in The Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests, issued by the Congregation for the Clergy. The Bishops of the United States of America have contributed to this development through their own Program of Priestly Formation and the Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests.
The Institute seeks to assist Bishops and religious superiors to provide for the ongoing education and renewal of their priests here in Rome. Over the years, our program has helped many priests in the renewal of their vocation and priesthood, revitalizing them and equipping them for more effective pastoral ministry. Click here to view the Good Priests… Better Priests promotional video.
Ongoing Human Formation: Fraternal living and sharing, that is, an ongoing dialogue that occurs between brother priests in a strictly priestly environment, affords the opportunity to explore personal and pastoral ramifications of the priesthood in light of the renewal experience. Moreover, studying the cultural and artistic heritage of the Church and Rome, as in other opportunities for travel, contributes to a life time of appreciation for our deep Catholic traditions.
Ongoing Spiritual Formation: Both semesters provide opportunities for priests to make their annual retreat. Moments for coming together in prayer in the daily celebration of the Eucharist and Liturgy of the Hours, as well as participating in the Holy Hour, Rosary, and Sacrament of Reconciliation. Spiritual Direction is available to each individual. Participants enjoy also the privilege of concelebrating liturgies at the Basilica of Saint Peter, other Papal Basilicas and various ancient churches. For many priests, the possibility of attending Papal liturgies and other spiritual events at the Vatican and in Rome is among the highlights of our program. In the Fall semester, a nine-day semester break permits personal travel or the option of a study pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In the Spring semester, the Scripture Study Tour incorporates travel to places such as Greece, Turkey and other destinations, as well as the option of praying at the Station Churches during Lent and remaining in Rome during Holy Week.
Ongoing Intellectual Formation: Presenters for the Institute are Roman-based university professors, as well as from the USA and Europe, whose expertise has brought them to the “universal classroom” of Rome. The professors typically enjoy working with Institute priests because of the give-and-take with experienced pastors and those active in the various ministries of the Church.
Ongoing Pastoral Formation: The priests of the Institute are diocesan and religious priests who come principally from the United States, but other English-speaking countries, too, which helps each to understand the greater horizon and local circumstances of the worldwide Church in its various places. In this, there is a significant new level of formation in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Most evenings and weekends are free, which offers the opportunity to be exposed to a wide range of pastoral activities.
Priests participating in the Institute reside at the newly refurbished Casa O’Toole on the campus of the Pontifical North American College on the Janiculum Hill (via del Gianicolo 14), overlooking the Vatican and much of Rome. Located next door to the seminary, Casa O’Toole has its own classroom, lounge and chapel and dining room. Each residence is fully furnished with private bathroom, heat and air conditioning; many rooms look directly at St. Peter’s Basilica. While having its own dining services, the residents of Casa O’Toole eat lunch with the seminarians in the seminary refectory. Class presentations take place in the Institute’s classroom. Priests will have use of the College’s library, computer lab, weight room / tennis courts / sports field, sundries-shop, snack bar, dry cleaning, Fed Ex, and money-exchange services. Our experience is that priests are rejuvenated in their ministry by their experience of praying, living and interacting with each other, as well as some 250 seminarians from 100 dioceses, all at the Pontifical North American College.
See here for “Program Facilities”.
Both the Fall and Spring semesters will include:
- a day for arrival – airport pick up and drop off – full board and lodging within walking distance of St. Peter’s Basilica – a day of orientation to Rome, Italy, the Pontifical North American College – an opening Mass at one of the Major Papal Basilicas - a priest retreat (in the Spring semester, the retreat at the start of each module will have a different focus, for example, the art of prayer, praying with the Scriptures, Saints & Mystics) – communal prayer: Daily Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, Holy Hour, Sacrament of Penance, Spiritual Direction – classes taught by expert Instructors from Rome and beyond (approximately 15 hours per week) – Wednesday General Audience with the Holy Father – some free travel weekends (Friday evening to Sunday evening) – organized and optional visits to places of interest in and around Rome – closing Mass and banquet – a departure day
For the Fall (twelve-week) program, among the subject-areas covered:
- Scripture Studies
- Eucharist and Sacred Orders
- Christology and Ecclesiology
- Liturgy and the New Missal
- Fundamental and moral theology
- Normative ethics and bio-medical ethics
- Homiletics and Preaching
- Women Doctors of the Church
- Canon Law
- Culture and Unbelief
For the Spring 2014 Program, the following four modules will be offered:
MODULE 1: January 20 – February 8
THE ART OF SPIRITUAL DIRECTION IN PRIESTLY MINISTRY
This module, led by seasoned diocesan priests who have served both as pastors and spiritual directors, will help to explore the art of spiritual direction as a means of service within parish life. The classes will look at the history of spiritual direction, methods for spiritual direction, the relationship between the Sacrament of Penance and spiritual direction, and, not least, how an immersion in the art of spiritual direction can nurture a stronger prayer life for the busy parish priest. Sessions will be interactive and will make use of various practica opportunities.
The 5 day priest guided retreat will focus on the direction of the soul in the life, preaching and sacramental outreach of Saint Jean Marie Vianney.
MODULE 2: February 10 – March 1
SCRIPTURE STUDY TOUR TO ROME & TURKEY (the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John and Saint Paul)
Traveling from Rome to Turkey, we follow in the footsteps of St. Paul, St. John and the Blessed Virgin Mary. We will begin our pilgrimage in Antakya (Syrian Antioch or Antioch on the Orontes), the cradle of Christianity and home of a thriving church made up of Jewish and Gentile Christians, and in Tarsus, Paul’s birthplace, an important intellectual and cultural center in what was the Roman province of Cilicia. From there, we will retrace the principal route of Paul’s first missionary journey as recounted by St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles, going inland and passing first by Derbe and Lystra on our way to present-day Konya (Iconium), and then westward to Antioch, an impressive Roman colony in the province of Pisidia. We next visit Pamukkale (Hierapolis) and its famous petrified waterfalls, its Martyrion and the newly-discovered tomb of the Apostle Philip. Afterwards we head to Sardis, the fifth church mentioned by St. John in the Book of Revelation and the metropolis of the Roman province of Lydia, where American archeologists unearthed the most impressive synagogue in the western Jewish diaspora yet discovered from antiquity. We conclude our pilgrimage on the coast of the Aegean Sea with our visit to ancient Ephesus, the first church mentioned in Revelation, a vibrant Christian community that was also greatly enriched by the Pauline tradition. The site is famous throughout the world thanks to the moving ruins of the Basilica of Mary (or of the Council), where she was solemnly proclaimed the “Mother of God,” the equally poignant remains of the Basilica of St. John, and its magnificent archeological area and museum. Our trip reaches its highpoint on the last day of our pilgrimage with a concelebrated Mass in the sanctuary of Meryemana (Our Lady’s House), a sacred place of pilgrimage for both Christians and Muslims. Later that day we conclude our journey at Miletus, where St. Paul bid farewell to the Ephesian elders. His leave-taking sets the stage for our own departure from Turkey the next day. The study tour is led by a Jesuit Scripture Professor of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. Accommodation will be in 4 and 5 star hotels.
Back in Rome, our five-day retreat, based primarily on selected texts by St. Paul and St. John, will focus on Mary as our model of prayer, holiness and charity. During the course of our Spiritual Exercises, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Mass in some of the Roman basilicas dedicated to St. Paul, St. John and the Blessed Mother.
MODULE 3: March 3 – March 22
MODERN MORAL PROBLEMS: HOW A PRIEST ANSWERS
This module, which will be taught by priest moral theologians with extensive experience in seminary teaching and parish ministry, will help participants to respond to the moral questions that are commonly raised by Catholics today. It will focus on a virtue theory approach that challenges every human being to attain a happy life, what the classical authors called beatitude only in the following of Christ along the path of virtue and perfection. The module will highlight the difficult questions in bioethics faced by priests today, especially those raised at the beginning-of-life and at the end-of-life.
The retreat will be directed to “The Priest: Man of Virtue, Man of Prayer.” The spiritual life is one of contemplation and action – priests share the effects of their contemplation through ministry. Sessions will offer reflections on prayer, Eucharist, Mary, hope, courage, humility. Through prayer and virtue, we become Christ for others.
MODULE 4: March 24 – April 12
CHRISTIAN ART AND ARCHITECTURE: ROME & ASSISI
The objective of this module, offered by qualified and experienced Catholic art historians, is to help participants “learn” the treasures that make up the Eternal City of Rome and Assisi, named a UNESCO World Heritage site in the year 2000, by developing the ability to approach art and architecture through an intellectual, emotional and visually informed perspective. Through this perspective, one will experience the pedagogical and salvific power of great art as a means to express the love of Christ as well as deep theological themes. This course demonstrates the development of art in Rome and Assisi from the pre-Christian through modern history, showing the Church’s role in building and saving Western Culture. Experiencing the most profound and beautiful truths of the faith through a sensory experience nurtures an evangelical spirit. The mission of this course is to enable priests to come to know and appreciate art and architecture, more profoundly, not only as an invaluable part of their Catholic patrimony, but as an indispensable element of ministry: a means of transcending and transforming hearts.
The retreat will reflect on the legacy of holy men and women who have envisioned ways to make the Gospel come alive in their own day and time. These will include St. Francis of Assisi, who initiated a return to the richness and simplicity of the Gospel and a way of concretizing the life and ministry of Jesus in one’s own life.
For full details and inquiries, please contact the Institute Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
V. Application Process
The application for the FALL and SPRING programs consist of:
1. Application form with passport-size photo (N.B. the form is different for the two programs – please select the appropriate one).
2. Recommendation of Bishop / superior with background certification.
3. Medical report
Acceptance is made on a first come, first serve basis after all documents have been received in our Rome office from one year to two months prior to the session (the sooner, the better as the program in both semesters can fill up quickly). We advise prospective Institute participants to first FAX or e-mail all the papers to our office. Then MAIL us the originals (including a passport-sized photo).If you are interested, we advise you to apply immediately, realizing that details are subject to change.
See here for “Application Information”.
*For inquiries, contact the ICTE Office at the North American College. Details are found on the website www.pnac.org, which should be monitored for updates on program details.
Rev. Msgr. Anthony J. Figueiredo, S.T.D.