On Thursday morning, 1st November 2012, His Lordship Mgr Enrico dal Covolo, Rector of the Lateran Pontificial University, paid a visit to the Seminary. He had been invited to Malta to hold conferences on the island. One of these conferences was held at the Gozo Seminary and it was attended by members of the Clergy, members of religious orders and the Gozitan seminarians. The theme of the conference was La sintesi tra consacrazione e missione nella vita del ministro ordinato. The conference was held on the occasion of the hundred and forty sixth anniversary of the founding of the Sacred Heart Seminary. This anniversary falls on Sunday, 4th November.
During the conference, Mgr dal Covolo explained how throughout the ages there has always been a strong bond between the consecration of the ordained minister (the intimate union between the priest and Jesus Christ) and the priest’s mission (the priest who herds Jesus’ flock). Mgr dal Covolo traced the history of the Church, from its very foundation by Jesus Christ, to the times of the School of Antioch (making special references to St Ignatius of Antioch and St John Chrysostom), the thoughts of St Augustine, the Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis of the Vatican Council II and on to the post-Synodal exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis.
During the conference Mgr dal Covolo explained how the Vatican Council II, instead of using new terminology, used the maxim of St Augustine to show that there is no dichotomy between the consecration and the mission of the priest: “Sit amoris officium pascere dominicum gregem” (to herd the Lord’s flock should be a duty of love). By the life they led and in their writings, both St Ignatius of Antioch and St John Chrysostom had already affirmed the declaration of St Augustine. Pope John Paul II confirmed all this in the exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis 23, when he stated: “La carità pastorale è quella virtù con la quale noi imitiamo Cristo nella sua donazione di sé e nel suo servizio. Non è soltanto quello che facciamo, ma il dono di noi stessi, che mostra l’amore di Cristo per il suo gregge”.
Bishop Mario Grech, who has just attended the Synod about the New Evangelisation, confirmed that what Mgr Enrico dal Covolo had just stated embraces the spirit of the ministerial priest that the Church contemplated during the Synod. He exhorted the members of the clergy to do an examination of conscience, quoting thereby Fr Michael Attard who used to remind fellow priests and the seminarians that: “one does not become a priest on the day of one’s ordination; one becomes a priest gradually, day by day”.
Later, His Excellency Mgr Enrico dal Covolo joined the community at lunch.