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College for Venezuelan priests in Rome closes its doors due to the crisis in the country

2016-07-14

After nearly 20 years in Rome, the Venezuelan College has closed. It is a sad reflection of the precarious situation that Venezuela finds itself in. The financial strain has made it impossible to keep the facility running for another year.

FR. CARLOS P. BOULANGER
Rector, Venezuelan College
"In Venezuela, there is a strict control of currency. There is no easy availability of foreign exchange and some are extremely burdensome. If we calculate the monthly payment today, a student at this school, is the equivalent to the minimum wage of 50 people per month. It's something very  difficult for the Venezuelan economy to sustain.” 

This is where the section of the residence that houses the priests is located. The final closure will commence within a few days and Father Carlos, its rector, is the only one left guarding the facilities until the closure is complete.

The belongings of its inhabitants, books, clothing, and what was part of daily life rests in this room. The past couple of months have been very difficult for these students, they are the last 12 Venezuelan priests who will have to resort to completing their training at another location in the Eternal City.

FR. CARLOS P. BOULANGER
Rector, Venezuelan College
"We were a great family, a great little family. There was an atmosphere of great priestly fraternity, and brotherhood. A very close bond that perhaps in larger colleges can not be achieved. I think it was the wealth of our school. It has brought them great pain but there is hope in knowing that this is something that had to happen. But we must deal with the situation and try to see what God is telling us through this. What he is calling us to do.”

The Venezuelan Church, after enormous efforts, has decided to close this institution that has seen about 150 priests pass through its college throughout its history.

FR. CARLOS P. BOULANGER
Rector, Venezuelan College
"Precisely three years ago, we dragged a large deficit and, therefore, had to take this painful but necessary decision. I think it was an act of responsibility that came from the bishops because if a debt would grow more exponentially than it would be an extremely irresponsible act.”

This small Venezuelan community in Rome will transfer to the Pontifical Spanish College. Thanks to an agreement between the Venezuelan and Spanish bishops, 12 priests will finish their training in Rome... Although, there is great hope of reopening their own school someday. It would be a sign that something has begun to change in Venezuela.


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