last seminary in Scotland closes
Bishops agree to close last seminary on Scottish soil
By Liz Leydon and Ian Dunn
10 April 2009

Scotus College, the last seminary in Scotland, is to close because of strained resources and reduced student numbers.

The Bishops' Conference of Scotland wants to concentrate the seminary education of priests for Scotland in the Pontifical Scots College Rome from the beginning of the 2009/10 academic year.

"It is a matter of regret that the Catholic Church will no longer train priests in Scotland," the bishops said in a statement, adding that they were grateful to all who have contributed to Scotus College.

This will be the first time in nearly 300 years that there will be no seminary on Scottish soil.

The bishops' decision, which came after a two-day meeting at Scotus College campus in Bearsden, near Glasgow, is not entirely unexpected. The conference considered ending the training of priests at the college in 2002 but granted the seminary a stay of execution.

There were 136 candidates for the priesthood studying in Scottish seminaries 25 years ago. Today there are nine students at Scotus College, where Fr William McFadden is rector, and 11 students at the Scots College in Rome, where Fr Paul Milarvie leads the teaching staff.

The bishops' decision has been met with disappointment but not surprise from leading members of Scotland's Catholic community.

Fr McFadden said: "I will implement the bishops' decision. We will do what we can. My main concern now is for a smooth transition so that everything goes well for the seminarians and the staff at the college."

Professor Patrick Reilly, who has taught at Scotus for 10 years and was head of the bishops' communications commission, said he was "disappointed" to hear the news "because of my own connection with the college, because of the number of good people who teach there and because of the very good young priests who have come through its doors".

Some took a more optimistic view. Leading Scottish composer James MacMillan said: "The Church in Scotland should turn our minds ahead to the day when Scotus reopens as it surely will, When Pope Benedict's reforms kick in we will have more vocations not less. The days of wishy-washy, cafeteria Catholicism are clearly coming to an end. Present and future generations will look for orthodoxy and devotion from our clergy and the fuller delight of living a good Catholic life with all the joys and challenges that will bring in the modern age."

The Scottish bishops will reconvene to discuss Scotus College in May and have indicated a desire to keep their options open on the seminary. "Should the number of seminarians increase in future, [we] would be delighted to reassess the situation," the bishops said.

Fr Andrew McKenzie, the national director of Priests for Scotland, believes the immediate future for vocations to the priesthood in Scotland looks promising. "We are making significant advances and have 18 students going for interview this year alone," said Fr McKenzie, who has taught at Scotus College for the past five years.

Should the upward trend continue over the next few years the Scots College in Rome would be unlikely to cope with the influx. However, the responsibility for staffing and covering the running costs of the seminaries for Scottish students, which is shared between each of the eight dioceses in Scotland, is considerable.

"Combining with the Scots College in Rome allows for the creation of a fully resourced national seminary and reduces the demands currently made on priests in Scotland," the bishops said.

They hope the decision will allow Scottish seminarians to take advantage of the spiritual, cultural and academic opportunities available in the Roman Pontifical Universities and "other institutes of higher learning at the heart of the Church".

The Vatican has indicated that there should be a set number of permanent staff at all seminaries, a number which may be prohibitively expensive for smaller seminaries. In recent years Scotus had diversified the services it offers, opening some of its classes and facilities to students who were not preparing for the priesthood. However, the Vatican wants seminaries to be reserved exclusively for candidates undergoing priestly formation.

Bishop Philip Tartaglia of Paisley, Bishop Joseph Toal of Argyll and the Isles and Bishop Vincent Logan of Dunkeld were asked by the Bishops' Conference of Scotland to look into the long-term viability of Scotus College. They reported back to the conference in February but a decision on whether or not to close Scotland's only seminary was postponed until this month.
After all these years, Vatican II is still bearing fruit!
That's a damn shame.
veritatem_dilexisti Wrote:After all these years, Vatican II is still bearing fruit!

Ah yes, the obligatory snide "Springtime of Vatican II" comment.
I'm sure those seminarians would rather go to school in Rome anyway.  Scotland < Rome 

Just sayin'.
(06-30-2009, 07:51 PM)DrBombay Wrote: I'm sure those seminarians would rather go to school in Rome anyway.  Scotland < Rome 

Just sayin'.
I don't know, a more Traditional formation may be available away from Rome.  And studying closer to home may be a plus for some.
I'm thinking some dioceses need to be returned to missionary status.  :shrug:
Sometimes it feels like the whole world is mission territory again.

Gosh, I'm emo tonight. Still, it feels that way to me.
(07-01-2009, 01:37 AM)phnuggle Wrote: Sometimes it feels like the whole world is mission territory again.

Gosh, I'm emo tonight. Still, it feels that way to me.

Ain't nothing but a thing. Remember St. Athanasius things have been worse.
That's pretty sad news. I reckon a few seminaries from other countries should be shipped over to Scotland - it's be a good place for formation of tough priests!  :) (Well, apparently not, but you'd think so...)

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