I was very pleased to find this painting of our parish patron St Simon Stock receiving the Brown Scapular from the Blessed Virgin:
The students are in separate groups for Philosophy and Theology, reflecting the different stages of spiritual development and expectations in terms of prayer life, and each has its own chapel. Below is the beautiful chapel for the theology students:
The Rector, Father Krzysztof Pawlina, invited us to his study for tea and cheesecake where we exchanged opinions about the formation of seminarians and the promotion of vocations to the priesthood. Father Pawlina gave me a present of his book "Kandydaci do Kaplanstwa Trzeciego Tysiaclecia" (Candidates for the Priesthood of the Third Millennium). His study is of course written in Polish but a summary in English, German and Italian is contained at the end of the book.
In this summary we read that the average age of men entering the seminary in 2000 was 20. Average students come from a town and from a middle class family. Their parents are of modest professional and educational backgrounds. Their parents' average level of education is secondary level. Only one in ten have parents who have been to higher education institutions.
The majority were altar servers in their youth. They desire to serve God and the Church and seek holiness. They are not motivated by achieving status and are not afraid of poverty or being objects of ridicule.
"The future priest is quite observant and critical, also in relation to modern priests," observes Fr Pawlina. "He can see their faults - especially too much materialism, lack of humility, wrong attitude towards people, passiveness, and formalism." I wonder if this is youthful criticism. I did experience a little pre-occupation at times with 'formalism' but, by and large, the priests I met during the last week were zealous and hard working. Fr Pawlina continues describing the attitudes of today's seminarians: "And, what should a priest stand out by according to a young seminarian? So what is his ideal of a priest? Above all, he is to be a persistent man, constant, patient, obedient, forgiving, and modest. He should stand out by his diligence, courage, and piety."
The attitude of seminarians seems to be one of self-sacrifice and sincerity. I'm sure that if Fr Pawlina's book were available in English it would be an excellent contribution to the study of the identity and role of priests in this millennium.
Incidentally, cassocks are normal dress for both staff and students.