Pastoral Formation

The Lorenzo Mission Institute trains future missionaries to love humanity and culture. Part of priestly formation is to be exposed to the different human situations and missionary contexts to provide the sense of synthesis between praxis and academic speculative work. They are introduced to both Filipino and Filipino-Chinese cultures also in order to have a wholistic glimpse of the entire pastoral and spiritual needs of the future people or groups of people they would be serving in the future. They are exposed to the various ministries like urban and rural poor, the prison, special children and orphanage, the home for the aged, the Filipino-Chinese youth, the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Women’s Organization, and catechetical work among students and parishioners in the different mission stations.

The Pastoral Formation of the Lorenzo Mission Institute includes a two-year Overseas Training Program in order for seminarians be acquainted with the Chinese language and culture. The Lorenzo Mission Institute acknowledges the call of the Lord among the Filipino youth who desire to serve the Chinese communities. So, they have to have sufficient knowledge and ability to speak the Chinese language and understand its culture. To provide the necessary formation that would fit future missionary work fulfills the agenda of the Second Vatican Council. Optatam Totius exhorts that missionary and priestly formation should agree with pastoral needs and  “in this way will the universal laws be adapted to the particular circumstances of the times and localities so that the priestly training will always be in tune with the pastoral needs of those regions in which the ministry is to be exercised.” (Optatam Totius 1)

Today, the Lorenzo Mission Institute fosters missionary exposures in formation like being with the tribes of Davao del Sur in order for seminarians to be exposed to cultural sensibilities. It is to imbue them with a sense of affirmation and appreciation of culture. It is also making them aware that the Church looks at missionary vocations vis-a-vis the universal Church. Mission work is always connected with the entire Catholic Church. Optatam Totius 2 continues to say that “the work of fostering vocations should, in a spirit of openness, transcend the limits of individual dioceses, countries, religious families and rites. Looking to the needs of the universal Church, it should provide aid particularly for those regions in which workers for the Lord’s vineyard are being requested more urgently.” Besides the exposures mentioned at the outset, seminarians are exposed to other apostolic work like being prayer warriors, vocation promoters, recollection and retreat masters, workshop facilitators and team builders. This training is necessary since a missionary is a shepherd to people. He should be trained to proclaim the Good News like a shepherd guiding his sheep.

John Paul II remarks on the rationale of pastoral work training in seminaries saying “and so pastoral formation certainly cannot be reduced to a mere apprenticeship, aiming to make the candidate familiar with some pastoral techniques. The seminary which educates must seek really and truly to initiate the candidate into the sensitivity of being a shepherd, in the conscious and mature assumption of his responsibilities, in the interior habit of evaluating problems and establishing priorities and looking for solutions on the basis of honest motivations of faith and according to the theological demands inherent in pastoral work.” (Pastores Dabo Vobis 58)

The Updated Philippine Program for Priestly Formation emphasizes that “Theology has a pastoral goal. This does not mean that all of theology is reduced to practical questions and to acquiring pastoral skills. Nor does this collapse all branches of Theology into pastoral or applied theology. It simply means that theology is not pursued for its own sake but for the service of the Good News that must engage and involve men and women of our times and respond to their concerns.” The Lorenzo Mission Institute tries its best to make priestly formation as relevant to the needs, situation, and dreams of the People of God. All areas of priestly formation are interwoven toward a trajectory that makes formation more applicable to human destiny and faith.