Apr 26, 2008

Juan Diego House and the "Virtus" program

The April 18 Tidings article (click on this post's title) on Juan Diego House (in Gardena), the Archdiocesan House of Formation for College Seminarians, says:

"In keeping with the fifth edition of the Program for Priestly Formation (PPF) of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, the life at Juan Diego House encompasses the four pillars of formation that are found in the PPF, as originally documented in Pastores Dabo Vobis, Pope John Paul II's 1992 apostolic exhortation...:

"Spiritual Formation: Juan Diego House has a life of daily Eucharist, Liturgy of the Hours, personal prayer, devotional prayer and Eucharistic adoration. Each seminarian has an approved personal spiritual director, with whom he contracts to meet on a regular basis.

"Human Formation: Sessions are conducted on self understanding, celibacy, interpersonal relationships, social skills, cultural diversity and community building. Students complete VIRTUS training and other activities to enhance their personal development. Field trips and membership at the YMCA are also part of the formation curriculum.

"Academic Formation: With an academic focus to assist them to be ready to enter St. John's Seminary, all students are required to successfully negotiate 15-unit semesters at the local colleges and universities. Most of the students complete their major work at Cal State Dominguez Hills with a philosophy major. They complete the pre-theology requirements at St. John's in a program specially designed with seminary professors. Some students double major in order to broaden their academic careers.

"Pastoral Formation: All students return home every weekend for participation at their home parishes. Working side by side with the priests and people of their parish, they develop collaboration skills. In the month of January, all students are required to volunteer at various places, such as at the L.A. Metro Project (LAMP), the Little Sisters of the Poor, and local schools."

For what it's worth, you can see a 2004 analysis of VIRTUS here: http://www.catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?recnum=7047

The author, Jeffrey Schwehm, attended a VIRTUS three-hour session. Among other things, he says it identified the molestation problem wrongly as pedophilia [instead of homosexuality] and said "no one was any more likely to abuse than anyone else."

Mr. Schwehm adds, "...there was no mention of anything Catholic in the entire presentation. We were not encouraged to learn the teachings of the Church on human sexuality or chastity. We were not encouraged to attend Mass regularly or to pray. If I had seen this presentation in any other place besides a Church basement I would have thought it to be a secular production and program."

Let's hope Juan Diego House presents VIRTUS better than the program Mr. Schwehm attended, and supplements it with specifically Catholic material, too.


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