Those priests who are responsible for the formation of future generations of priests have a great responsibility on their shoulders. For the sake of the young men under their care they themselves must be living witnesses to Christ and to the Gospel. Yet at the same time they must be qualified to a high intellectual level and also be possessed of great psychological sensitivity towards the seminarians.
One of the most important factors in their work is the discernment required for the selection of the right candidates. Scandals in many different countries have demonstrated how disastrous it can be for the wrong kind of candidates to be admitted to the priesthood. Hence it is urgently necessary to make a very careful selection – which begins even before the young man has entered the seminary. It is essential for their future formators to form an accurate picture beforehand of the family situation of the candidates concerned, in order to discern whether there might be psychological or other problems in their early development. This requires the investment of a great deal of time and energy.
Even in Africa there are more and more broken families, and as a result many young people suffer spiritual trauma, even at a very early age. Caring for them in such a way that they can still become strong and faithful priests is an immense challenge. As is the task of weeding out the unsuitable candidates.
An additional challenge is the fact that many young men who enter the seminary have by no means had an ideal school education, and consequently there are educational deficiencies which also have to be made up for. And last, but by no means least, the foundations must be laid for a strong spiritual development. For a priest who is not profoundly rooted in the relationship with Jesus Christ and able to live from it can never be a suitable shepherd for the people of God.
Clearly, the priests responsible for the selection and formation of these future priests face major and ever-increasing challenges in their work, and so the Douala ecclesiastical province has established a two-year ongoing training course for those working in the area of the vocations apostolate and in the minor seminaries, where young boys and youths study and complete their secondary education with a view to possible entry into the major seminary, and also for formators working in the major seminaries. ACN is supporting these courses with a total of 8000 Euros.