Christ calls all of His followers to be missionary. He chooses some to be missionary priests.
The spirit of a missionary priest flows from his response to the mandate of Jesus Christ entrusted to His disciples: “Go out into the whole world: proclaim the Good News to all creation.” (Mark 16: 15)
Commitment to Christ
It’s a radical commitment, originating in Christ’s words to his disciples, “You did not choose me. No, I chose you; to bear fruit, fruit that will last.” (john 15: 16) Christ is the foundation and focus of the life of the missionary priest.
Commitment for Life
Missionary priests offer their lives for the Reign of God, committed to the person, teaching and mission of Jesus Christ. Living this out takes the priest on an adventure for life beyond the familiar, to peoples and cultures of the world.
Commitment to Risk Facing the Unknown
Willingness to risk and to face the unknown are part of the life of a missionary priest … in the words of the Apostle Paul, “going as by faith and not by sight – we are full of confidence.”
(2 Corinthians 5:7)
Commitment to be Servants of God’s Word
Missionary priests serve the Word of God in ways suited to the uniqueness of the peoples to whom they go; through teaching, dialogue, prayer, celebration and the witness of their person and lifestyle.
Commitment through the Sacraments
Through the celebration of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, missionary priests – together with the community, small or large – worship and give thanks to God who nourishes, forgives, heals, and renews them.
Commitment to Bridge Gaps
Through dialogue and friendship, missionary priests develop deep respect for peoples of other religious traditions and cultures. They find themselves, at times, like bridges between them and their cultural and religious beliefs. They learn to witness humbly to Christ among them and to discover the Spirit of God, mysteriously, wonderfully, at work.
Commitment to Justice and Peace
Over the years missionary priests have found themselves called to be advocates for justice and peace among the poor and the marginalized. They also witness to how the oppressed – when brought together and guided by the ideals of the Gospel – are able to employ their gifts for their own common good and for the future.
Commitment to Witness to the Sacred
Missionaries see the urgency today of giving witness to the sacredness of the Earth itself. They strive toward the ideal that invites all people to care for the God-given gifts of all creation, which sustain us.
Formation of the Missionary Priest
The following provides a general overview of preparation required for the formation of a missionary priest.
The candidate to become a missionary priest, upon completing a discernment process and receiving a recommendation for acceptance into the seminary, begins his studies and formation in the Fall semester.
A basic university or college degree and some philosophy are a pre-requisite for theological studies. The candidate requiring philosophy credits can complete these while beginning his theology programme.
The first two years of theological studies follow courses in Scripture, Systematic Theology, Sacraments, Church Teachings and courses in Pastoral Ministry. Studies are directed toward a degree in theology.
Social, Communal and Prayer Life
The formation of a missionary priest candidate includes: regular prayer, daily Eucharist, spiritual direction, a programme directed at personal growth and human formation, regular meetings with a spiritual group for ongoing formation and sharing of one’s journey. Also important are activities related to the social and communal life of the seminary.
After two years of theological studies, the priest candidate is sent overseas for a one-year internship programme. This one-year guided programme in a cross-cultural setting is done as part of a team with other missionaries in a designated mission area. The goal of this internship is to provide the candidate with the opportunity to experience adjusting to a new culture, perhaps learn a new language, practice pastoral skills, and grow spiritually in his understanding of what it means to be a missionary priest.
Upon completion of his overseas internship programme, the priest candidate returns to the seminary to finish his studies and prepare for ordination.
Near the conclusion of formal seminary studies, and with the recommendation of the Director of Formation and the approval of the General Council, the priest candidate will be ordained to the Diaconate, a final step before ordination to priesthood.
The ordinary length of time to priestly ordination for an individual who begins the process having already completed a college or university degree is six years. Upon ordination the missionary priest in dialogue with the General Council receives his first mission assignment.