A 125th birthday is celebrated better ... if it is with Pope Francis.
The Pontifical Spanish College of San José celebrates its 125 years of life. It is the home of Spanish priests who complete their formation in the Eternal City. Some 160 people attended this audience with Pope Francis. Everyone from the center's
employees, to its management team and bishops patrons, to 50 former students from the last 25 years.
The president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, Card. Ricardo
Blázquez was in charge of greeting Pope Francis on behalf of the whole group. ,
The pope asked these priests not to limit themselves to only obtaining a good academic formation during their years in Rome. He also insisted on understanding that what is most important is God.
"This institution was created with the vocation of being a reference point for the formation of the clergy. To train yourself means to be able to approach the Lord with humility and ask Him: 'What is your will? What do you want of me?' We know the answer, but perhaps it will do us good to remember it, and for
this I propose the three words from the Shema with which Jesus responded to the Levite: 'You shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength.'"
Pope Francis gave them several pieces of advice and made an important request for them to escape from ecclesiastical careers because they are, as he said, "a plague."
The Pontifical Spanish College of Rome currently has 72 students from 42 dioceses. It also welcomed seven Venezuelan priests who were left without a college after the closing of theirs last summer, as a victim of the crisis of the country.
In these 125 years, more than 3,600 seminarians and priests have passed through the center. The College was founded in 1892 by Blessed Manuel Domingo y Sol, whom Paul VI defined as "the apostle of priestly vocations."