Priest defends seminary, dismisses CCOG's claims as myths
It's not just the ownership of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary that's under fire, but the institution itself. On Monday, the Concerned Catholics of Guam called the seminary a "sham", alleging the priests in training had no background checks, no psychological screenings, and no records to prove they were high school graduates. The CCOG also alleged the faculty were few and unqualified.
Today, we heard from the rector of the seminary himself, Father Pius Sammut, and he's out to debunk what he's calling "misgivings" from the CCOG.
Sham or seminary? Father Sammut is defending the institute which he says has produced 17 priests for the archdiocese. In an emailed response to KUAM News, Father Pius responds to recent statements made by the Concerned Catholics of Guam.
"This is another myth propagated by the enemies of Archbishop Anthony Apuron," the priest wrote.
One by one, he tackles the CCOG's issues, from admissions to faculty and the high cost of running the rms. The CCOG contends the Archdiocese of Agana funds $200,000 for the RMS. Father Pius, however, says their calculations are wrong.
"Last fiscal year, June 2015-2016, the total RM expenses were $531,353. The subsidy of the archdiocese was $73,800, less than $3,000 per head per year!" he maintained.
While the CCOG argues it'd be cheaper for Guam to send priests-in-training to seminaries abroad, Father Pius compares Guam's seminary to those stateside.
"To form a seminarian in Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon or in Saint Patrick's in California costs more than $42,000 annually, while in Guam it costs less than $14,000. We can train three seminarians in Guam at the cost of one seminarian in the mainland. Facts are facts!"
When it comes to admissions, Father Pius states it's a three-tiered process which considers the candidates' moral life, maturity, their studies and their health as well as screenings by a national team of catechists, a retreat, and further screenings by rectors of other seminaries. The faculty, meanwhile consists of eight permanent professors and five adjuncts, all of whom are assessed and ratified by the Lateran in Rome.
As for the formation of strictly Neocatechumenal priests, Father Pius discerns fact from fiction. "Our sole focus at the seminary is the formation of diocesan priests," he stated.
Instead, he says Archbishop Apuron needed the assistance of the Neocatechumenal Way to start up the major seminary. "He asked the help of the Neocatechumenal Way because he realized that we do not have the necessary resources on island. Thanks be to God, the initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way, seeing the grave situation, pastorally, of the islands of the Pacific, namely the serious shortage of priests, accepted," he said.
"The role of the Neocatechumenal Way is to provide a solid Christian formation to the seminarians. It also facilitates their insertion into the local parish."