It was July last year, as Pamplona closes the festivities of San Fermin, a new phase of our seminary formation is just beginning. Colegio Eclesiastico Internacional Bidasoa immersed me in the beauty of the Seminary Formation. These are some of the fond encounters I could recall during my first months in the seminary that left a deep impression in my heart as I continue in responding to God’s call.
A climb to Roncesvalles
Spain is known for the famous Camino de Santiago which are intertwined pathways leading to Compostela, the Shrine of the Apostle Saint James in northwestern Spain. Interestingly, the seminary is situated in one of the many paths of the Camino. One weekend, we decided to organise a small trek towards Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees. It was a long walk under the scorching heat of the summer sun. We went together but as the altitude increased I got lost in pace yet still I decided to continue with the traipse over the mountain only to find out that just a few metres away, our formator and the other seminarians were waiting for me! You waited for me! I said with a sigh of relief. And Don Jokin Rebole told me, ¡Claro que sí! ¡El seminario es fraternidad! (Of course! The seminary is brotherhood!).
This left a great impression on me – the Colegio Internacional Eclesiastico Bidasoa walks along with the seminarians as we take the path of formation towards the priesthood. The seminarians are called to be eminent men of community and communion. As men capable of building community and training others to live in communion we need this experience and training first! This is what CEI-Bidasoa does for us – it forms us in relationships of fraternity, humility, mutual service, patience and unity. The seminary activities allow us to immerse in communion of diversity, in sharing and learning the different perspectives and cultures which we came from. Being an international seminary, CEI-Bidasoa opens a space for the synodal experience of the Church.
Poco a poco…
When we were studying the basics of Castellano, we were also introduced to some of the useful phrases which not only allowed us to learn the language of the tongue but also, most importantly, instructed the virtues of the heart. There was an aphorism popular among the seminarians and formators which I liked very much – poco a poco which means little by little.
Every Saturday morning, we would have our regular Charlas de Formacion where the formators would talk to us about the different seminary values and virtues that a man being formed to become a priest must possess. These Charlas are simple and straightforward. They impart to us the most practical ways where spirituality can find its application in our lives. These pequeñas cosas – the little things we do each day would contribute a huge difference not only for our own sanctification but for the goodness of the Church.
Colegio Eclesiástico Internacional Bidasoa forms the seminarians to become holistic servants for the Church. The organised structure of the seminary allows us to undertake our theological studies with ease and attention. A time for recreational sports and tertulias were also allotted during the day to establish mature and healthy social interactions within the community. These activities also allow us to discover our creative potentials and gifts which we could offer to the people of God.
“Siempre junto a Jesús”. Always together with Jesus. This was the advice of Don Chema Pardo, my spiritual director in the seminary when I asked him how I can grow more in the seminary formation. He was absolutely right. We always start and end the day with God in prayer. In prayer, our vocation is sustained and our “yes” is constantly renewed. It gives us new strength and a refreshed perspective to continually offer ourselves for the flock. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in the recitation of the Holy Hours, in every exposition of the Blessed Sacrament – we are called day by day to be configured to the Heart of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. In spiritual directions, in frequent confessions and regular circles given to seminarians, we are being moulded to become men of faith, love and charity.
A million thanks to the Theological Centrum and to the Colegio Internacional Eclesiastico Bidasoa for forming young seminarians like me to become a good, holy and humble servants in the vineyard of the Lord as it was envisioned by Saint Josemaria: alter Christus, ipse Christus: another Christ, Christ himself!