Catholic Library World

January 4, 2022

“Msgr. Murphy believes that priestly formation is at a crossroad. He views the recent American seminary visitations and important new publications on priesthood, both sociological and theological as the impetus to look more closely at how our priests have been and are being educated. Msgr. Murphy has been the rector of the North American College in Rome. The creation of this book comes from both his personal experiences in seminaries and from his good scholarly research.

Msgr. Murphy begins with a look at seminaries from their very beginnings. The 16th and the 17th centuries were pivotal in the creation of seminaries in their modern sense. Although the first directives of the Council of Trent were directed at poor, uneducated men desiring priesthood, they soon expanded their perspective to promulgate decrees that these youths be nourished and religiously educated in the disciplines of the Catholic Church. The first chapter also reports the important contributions to the creation of the modern seminary by Saint Charles Borromeo.

Msgr. Murphy relates the story of the other developments of the 16th and 17th centuries especially in France where the concepts of priestly spirituality were added to the current academic, ‘scholastic’ model. Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Philip Neri and the establishment of the Society of Staint Sulpice are discussed.

Msgr. Murphy jumps to the Second Vatican Council and the concepts of Christian community and its mission to the world with the impact on seminaries and the formation of a different priest. Ratio Fundamentalis and Pastores dobo obis are explained in detail.

The last two chapters deal with the new seminaries established to form priests for this new mission of the Church—conversion, community, and mission. The book ends with a look at an experimental seminary begun in Paris in 1985. Here is also a section titled ‘Implications’ that looks at the future.

This is an interesting work for all those involved in priestly formation, both seminary faculties and vocation committees in parishes. It gives us an excellent picture of where seminaries have been and where they may be going.”

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