The following comes from a post by Archbishop Gomez, published on August 17 by the Angelus:
This week marks the start of the academic year for the many men who are preparing to be priests at our St. John’s Seminary and Juan Diego House.
It is a good moment for us to give thanks to God. In recent years, he has blessed his children here in the archdiocese with many fine new priests and new vocations.
This year we ordained nine new priests and seven transitional deacons who will become priests next year for Los Angeles; we also ordained two transitional deacons who will be serving in Uganda.
Right now, by the grace of God we have 93 seminarians preparing to be priests in Los Angeles. There are 67 at St. John’s, 25 at Juan Diego House and one studying at the Hispanic Seminary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. In total at St. John’s there are 114 men from Los Angeles and 11 other dioceses and two religious communities.
You cannot really “learn” to be a priest — it is not like any ordinary profession or occupation. Preparing for the priesthood takes training of the head and heart, the intellect and spirit. It is a spiritual work of forming the soul for a life to be lived in the company of Jesus Christ and in the service of his mission.
Training for the priesthood is like that in some ways. It begins with a decision to live in a totally new way, so that we can achieve a new goal, a new purpose for our lives. To reach that goal requires dedication, sacrifice and daily, patient practice aimed at self-mastery of body, mind and spirit.
In the case of the priest, this training takes the form of daily Mass and interior prayer, and spending “holy hours” with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It takes studying the Church’s teachings, theology and traditions; learning about human nature and people’s needs and the shape of the society we live in. It takes learning how to live with others in community. There is also practical “hands-on” experience gained through pastoral ministry and internships at parishes.
Like athletic training, priestly formation also requires “coaches,” “trainers” and mentors. This is the work of the seminary. We have always had a rich academic tradition and excellent faculty and staff. In these past few years, we are continuing to grow and strengthen our faculty and programs at St. John’ Seminary and Juan Diego House.
The “gold” we are seeking for our priests is this — a heart consecrated to God and a life that is conformed to Jesus Christ. The priest is a man of God filled with joy because he knows God’s love and mercy. He is a man who lives now for God alone, with a missionary passion to spread God’s love and mercy through the whole world.