Friday, 6 August 2010

The Swiss Guard and Vocations Part 2

Fr de Raemy:

Before his arrival in the Vatican in September 2006, Fr de Raemy had studied in Rome at the Angelicum and Gregorian Universites and had done pastoral work as a Parish Priest. He had of course also done his Swiss military service. In the Guard he holds the rank of colonel but his strong commitment to young people makes him, as chaplain to the Guards, sensituve to the problemsof the young men in his spiritual care. In some cases they have left Switzerland for the first time.

Swiss Catholicism:

Fr de Raemy is very honest on this subject and one senses the great care with which he chose his words: 'In Switzerland there are problems in the formation of priests, especially in German-speaking Switzerland..........for this reason, many study in other countries, and it is a pity because there is the risk that our dioceses lose their vocations................In Switzerland there is a stong tension between the traditionalists and those who are closer to the Protestant world and see the priest simply as an expert on theology. The parish priests are NOT chosen by the bishops but by a council of laymen, who do NOY have to be practising Catholics. (my caps.) Sone are faithful and loyal to Rome, others less. For this reason, when these young men come to Rome, they can learn the correct balance.'
(And one of our English Bishops has said that he feels emasculated by Summorum Pontificum!!!!)
Fr de Rsemy says that the best occasion to impart a little catechesis, and to understand the spirituality of the Guards, is during their first weeks in Rome. 'I propose to them to visit the tomb of St. Peter to understand why we are right here, and not 20 miles away.'

Spiritual and Pastoral activity of members of the Guard:

There is a retreat each Lent and an annual pilgrimage to Lourdes in May and the Guards have the opportunity to express religious commitment through various missionary and devotional activities. 'Each year they collect funds through sales and auctions for a specific project, and some of them go personally to bring the funds to the chosen missions. Others organise pilgrimagestogether with the chaplain to Italian sanctuaries........others attend nearby parishes or the youth centre of San Lorenzo a few yards from St. Peter's, of join Roman youth in Eucharistic Adoration in the church of Sant'Agnes in Piazza Novona on Thursday evenings.'

Tomorrow I'll devote a Part 3 to Fr de Raemy's answers to questions about individual attitudes to faith and vocation amongst the Guard.

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