Skip to comments.Phoenix bishop to helm Priestly Formation Committee [of USCCB]
Posted on 12/12/2004 8:05:41 PM PST by Phx_RC
Nearly a year after learning he had been selected to shepherd the Phoenix faithful, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted has been elected chairman of the U.S. bishops Committee on Priestly Formation.
The Phoenix bishop was selected by his peers during last months biannual bishops meeting in Washington, D.C.
Bishop Olmsted, who is currently a consultant to the priestly formation committee, will officially begin his three-year term as chair during the U.S. bishops meeting in November 2005. He succeeds Bishop John C. Nienstedt of New Ulm, Minn.
The future of the Church very much depends on our young people, our young people accepting Gods call, embracing it, and then being produced with the means to be well prepared, said Bishop Olmsted upon returning from the Nov. 15-17  meeting. Its an area thats always been of great interest and importance in my life.
The committee works with bishops and seminaries in matters relating to the Program of Priestly Formation, which provides the norms for seminary formation in the United States.
Priestly formation is an integrated process designed to develop the whole person; the seminarians human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral dimensions.
While the Church has been especially successful in addressing these pillars of priestly formation, Bishop Olmsted said seminaries need to be more attentive to the component of human formation.
I think the scandals of the last few years have made us much more aware that we cant take for granted all the different dimensions of human formation, said the bishop.
In fact, Pope John Paul II says that a personality of a priest should serve as a bridge to all those hell be called to serve.
Seminaries need to evaluate a candidates personality, health, leisure activities, interest in the arts, ability to form healthy friendships with men and women of all ages, and solid decision-making abilities.
Bishop Olmsted is well suited for the position as he spent many of his years as a priest working in formation. At the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, he served as dean of formation from 1993 until he was appointed president and rector of the college in 1997. The Josephinum is the only pontifical seminary outside Italy.
As chair, Bishop Olmsted will determine the makeup of the committee on priestly formation by choosing among bishops nationwide. His committee will also facilitate a team appointed by the Holy See as they visit the U.S. Churchs seminaries, an endeavor last undertaken in the 1980s.
Other foreseeable challenges include helping the Church to cope in the face of an increasing priest personnel shortage.
With the decreasing number of active priests, seminaries are finding it difficult to have priests on its faculty, he said. That is why the bishop said the Church has a great need to foster vocations to priesthood and religious life.
As chairman of a bishops committee, Bishop Olmsted will automatically become a member of its administrative committee. This committee meets two additional times per year, in March and September, to prepare U.S. bishops meeting agendas. On occasion, it will make decisions on matters that cannot wait until the bishops meetings in June or November.
Bishop Olmsted said this new position will continue to nourish my love for my brother priests and for those who are going to be priests.
I think that when youre working in priestly formation, you have to have a great love of the priesthood or youre not going to do the work well, he added. I think it will enrich my understanding of what we need to provide for all the young men who come forward as candidates to the priesthood in this diocese.