That takes a lot of effort. Top class establishments such as Raymond Blanc's use "on the job training" - work experience, internships, call it what you will. It blends knowledge based learning with practical skills; it is, in short, vocational training.
In a recent comment on my post of 7th March Anthony S Layne picked me up on a point of slight concern (if I read him correctly). He was not overly comfortable with Priests being trained or developed using commercial methods, and I understand his concern.
But, as well as the academic programme necessary for the formation of a good priest, comes a spiritual one (of course) and a vocational one. Vocational in a double sense inasmuch as the man must have what we call a 'vocation' or a calling for the ministry and a practical programme based on what will confront him in the outside world. He must communicate well, be able to speak publicly effectively, know how to respond when visiting a hospice, be able to walk into a school and strike an instant rapport with the pupils - the list is endless.
So, Directors of seminaries send their trainee priests off into the community to work alongside parish priests and to learn the nuts and bolts of their vocation - all well and good.
But what preparation is given to assessing their placements? Is the PP they will be residing with a strong and competent role model? Does he lead an intensely spiritual inner life as well as a public one, does he gather prospective converts and lapsed Catholics about him like a iron filings to a magnet?
I will not mention our excellent blogger priests by name as I do not wish to embarrass them (and they will not thank me for my next point) but wouldn't it be an excellent move to place seminarians as interns with these beacons of the faith? Not one at a time, that already takes place, but three or four so that their mentor parish priest can use them individually or as a group to aid him in his work.
That's what happens (or should happen in commerce). You seek out the centres of excellence and place your interns with them - no point in placing them in the organisations that wallow in idle incompetence!
And, while I am on the soap box concerning the development of young potential priests I must say a few words in praise of the Latin Mass Society's initiative to train priests in the Extraordinary Form of celebrating Mass. This is the best possible use of funds in my opinion so, if you can support them with a bit of cash, it will reap huge dividends.
They may already do this but if they don't they may like to take it on board and that is, to extend the Mass training scheme to Seminarians.....their website may be found by clicking here. http://www.lms.org.uk/