Benefactors Help 115 Seminarians Work for Peace in Colombia
The Diocese of Sonson-Rionegro is a center for priestly formation in Colombia. In five seminaries, over 800 young men from various different dioceses are preparing for ordination to the priesthood.
Of the 400 priests belonging to this diocese, almost 200 are currently working as missionaries abroad. They are helping in 18 different countries where the Church has a shortage of priests. Again and again, the bishop receives letters from all over the world asking him to send priests from his diocese.
In the Diocese of Sonson-Rionegro,Colombia, the Church faces the challenge of bringing help and consolation to refugees, widows and orphans and helping those in deep poverty or marked by the trauma of past events from the political and military turmoil the country has undergone. In many ways, society is broken, and the people need shepherds. The Church continues to pursue her mission, tirelessly and fearlessly, combining her pastoral care for the people with a deep social commitment.
The Catholic Church, at least, is doing everything in her power to help. But she, too, has by no means been unscathed by the conflict: her priests and even bishops have been abducted, and many priests have been murdered.
Church leaders insist that it is the duty of the Church to be “an instrument of peace and a prophetic voice for justice and truth, a voice that speaks up above all on behalf of the poor and suffering. Peace in Colombia must not be a peace of the grave, but a living peace that all sides must work on. The Church's message is indeed respected, but sadly too little listened to."
It is this peace, the Peace of Christ, for which the seminarians in the diocese also wish to work. In the Seminary of Our Lady, in Marinilla, one of the five seminaries here in the Diocese of Sonson-Rionegro, there are currently 115 seminarians training for the priesthood.
Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, ACN was able to help the seminary with a grant of $31,400. Father John Fredy Giraldo Ramirez tells us what the seminary means to the diocese and to him personally. He himself was ordained to the priesthood in 2001 and is now responsible for the vocations apostolate in the Diocese of Sonson-Rionegro.
In his letter he writes, "The seminary of the diocese has without doubt shaped my own personal life and still more my life as a priest, thanks to the formation I received here. Thanks to the loving help and support of our bishop, our priests and you, our benefactors, who have helped those who have undergone their training here to become the pastors that the Church needs, the seminary is increasingly becoming the heart of the diocese.”
“I therefore thank you for all the material and spiritual help you have given and continue to give to this educational institution. Be assured that we priests who have received our training here will always pray for you, that the Lord may bless your work for the Church in need."