Pope Francis formally announced an extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy in a Bull of Indiction, Misericordiae Vultus (The Face of Mercy). Jesus Christ is the face of the Fathers mercy, Pope Francis says in opening his bull. In this light, Merciful like the Father is the motto he chose for the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy opening on 8th December 2015 on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and closing on 20th November 2016 on the Solemnity of Christ the King. It comes from Luke 6:36, Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.
The formation of the clergy is certainly one of the priorities of the Church. The aim of formation is to prepare apostles, who are capable of living and proclaiming the Good News to all peoples, within the context of their culture. According to St. John Maria Vianny who is the patron of priests, the priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. This is a biblical truth, which has to be highlighted in our Seminary formation. The letter to the Hebrews chapter 2:17 highlights mercifulness as the distinguishing feature of Jesus priesthood, calling him merciful and faithful high priest. The priestly ministry flowed directly from Jesus compassion for the people. That is why whenever priests ask to Pope Francis for an advice, his answer is always, Be merciful. His motto Miserando Atque Eligendo (Chosen Through the Eyes of Mercy) highlights that his own vocation was born in an experience of Gods mercy, when as a 16-year-old boy he went to confession on the feast of the St. Matthew, the great convert. So the motto of this year of our seminary is also Merciful like the Father.
As we know that the future priests have to be trained as the pioneers of this divine quality of mercy and compassion. Thus, I would say the priestly formation is mainly a heart business. The image of priest after the heart of Jesus calls for an appropriate formation that emphasizes genuine compassionate values, attitudes and much more generous commitment and dedication to the poor. I firmly believe that priestly formation is a common pilgrimage undertaken together, the guide, Jesus Christ and the disciple. So let us try to be merciful and compassionate to the fellow people and keep always our eyes in to the face of Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost. Wish you all a happy and Blessed Academic year of 2015-16 and May the Almighty God bless us all.