Western Catholic Reporter
Canadian Catholic News
Cardinal Thomas Collins is excited about his new program for men about to enter Toronto’s St. Augustine Seminary.
He calls it “a spiritual year” in which prospective priests go through a series of retreats, read the Bible cover to cover, work with the poor and are immersed in different forms of Catholic culture, such as music and art.
Then there is the “media fast.” No email, no newspapers or magazines, no Internet, Ipads, television or other “potentially addictive media.”
Cardinal Collins got the idea from Archbishop Charles Chaput when Chaput was archbishop of Denver. (He recently became archbishop of Philadelphia.)
Canada's newest cardinal led a retreat for seminarians in Denver and asked those he met one-on-one what they thought of the spiritual year. “All of them said it was very fruitful.”
One seminarian told him, “Before I went through the spiritual year, my computer used me; now, I’m using my computer.”
Although the media fast is the most eye-catching aspect of the spiritual year, Collins appears most high on the 30-day Ignatian retreat that has been broken down and spread over the 10 months. “It has turned out to be of immense benefit.”
Having spent 17 years teaching at St. Peter’s Seminary in London, Ont., and nearly 15 years overseeing seminaries in Edmonton and Toronto, Cardinal Collins is definite about the value of the spiritual year. “My considered opinion is you need the year.”
“The idea is to help people to know Christ, to grow deep,” he said in an interview with the WCR. “It’s so important. You’ve got to build deep, deep to the bedrock foundations and then the academics and the rest will follow.”