St John's Seminary at Wonersh was opened on the feast of the birthday of Our Lady and so this has always remained a significant day in the life of the Seminary. The students are now back, preparing for lectures to begin next week. There are fourteen new men in the first year which is very encouraging. I was there today for a staff development day in which we discussed the relationship of spiritual and pastoral formation to the other areas of formation - including the teaching of theology which is my role.
After Mass this evening, we processed to the shrine of Our Lady, Regina Cleri, which is in the "ambulacrum", the wide corridor on the ground floor (picture above.) The statue was reverenced with incense, then there were prayers for the new students, for the staff, and for other intentions. Finally the Rector then read the prayer of Blessed Pope John Paul which concludes the Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis (on the formation of priests.) Here is the text:
O Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ and Mother of priests, accept this title which we bestow on you to celebrate your motherhood and to contemplate with you the priesthood of, your Son and of your sons, O holy Mother of God.
O Mother of Christ, to the Messiah - priest you gave a body of flesh through the anointing of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the poor and the contrite of heart; guard priests in your heart and in the Church, O Mother of the Saviour.
O Mother of Faith, you accompanied to the Temple the Son of Man, the fulfillment of the promises given to the fathers; give to the Father for his glory the priests of your Son, O Ark of the Covenant.
O Mother of the Church, in the midst of the disciples in the upper room you prayed to the Spirit for the new people and their shepherds; obtain for the Order of Presbyters a full measure of gifts, O Queen of the Apostles.
O Mother of Jesus Christ, you were with him at the beginning of his life and mission, you sought the Master among the crowd, you stood beside him when he was lifted up from the earth consumed as the one eternal sacrifice, and you had John, your son, near at hand; accept from the beginning those who have been called, protect their growth, in their life ministry accompany your sons, O Mother of Priests. Amen.