.- The Spanish daily La Razon reported this week that more than 1,300 teens between the ages of 12 and 18 are currently pursing a call to the priesthood by studying at the 53 diocesan minor seminaries that exist in the country.
An article written by Alex Navajas revealed that while “some kids at that age dream about being soccer players, business leaders, doctors or bullfighters,” others, “as soon as they enter adolescence, want to become priests.”
Such is the case with Alvaro Pinero, a 16-year-old from Toledo, who entered the minor seminary school in Madrid in 2006. He discovered his vocation at the age of 12 but felt unsure. “The school helped me a lot. It’s a great environment where we have good friendships and my classmates feel like they are my second family,” he said.
Another student, Adrian, felt the call to the priesthood at the age of five as an altar boy in his hometown of Monturque. At the age of 12 he entered the seminary of San Pelegio, and now at age 16 he says of the seminary, “Our ideal is Christ. Prayer is part of our formation, because without it we can do nothing. Our spiritual retreats are times of more intense prayer in order know and love Christ more.”
Santiago Fernandez, 18, has been in the minor seminary for two years and in September he will graduate to major seminary. “At first, my friends reacted very negatively. Then, when they saw how well I was doing, they began to support me,” he recalled.
Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba also discovered his vocation at an early age and attended minor seminary. “I wanted to be a priest since I was seven,” he said. “I was an altar boy and I told my pastor, who was a key part of my vocation.” He said the years at minor seminary “were the happiest of my life. I only have positive things to say about minor seminaries,” Bishop Fernandez added.
Bishop Fernandez is one among many Spanish bishops who attended minor seminary, including the Archbishop of Toledo and the Bishop of Jaen. According to Antonio Prieto, the rector of the minor seminary of Cordoba, “more than 60 percent of the clergy of our diocese has passed through these halls.”