– SURVEY. Priests in the Philippines devote less time to formal prayer than seminarians do, according to an Opus Dei study
“In general, the priests seemed to engage in spiritual practices less assiduously” than the seminarians, Father Roberto Latorre said in reporting the study led by the University of Asia and the Pacific
The university in Pasig City, southeast of Manila, is owned by a corporation including members of the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei.
Father Latorre, a member of the prelature, presented the “Exploratory Survey on the Holiness of Priests” at the Workshop Conference on Priestly Holiness held July 9 at the university
The study asked 176 priests and 205 seminarians how often they pray the Liturgy of the Hours, make an examination of conscience, meditate, say the rosary and do spiritual reading
He noted that 85 percent of seminarians said they prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, compared to 70 percent of the priests, and that 63 percent of seminarians and 49 percent of priests said they prayed the rosary
Father Latorre said 21 percent of the seminarians surveyed went to confession weekly while only 4 percent of the priests did the same. Sixty-five percent of seminarians reported going to confession monthly.
Seventy-two percent of the seminarians and 40 percent of priests reported going for spiritual direction monthly, with one out of four priests saying they had no spiritual director while 97 percent of seminarians had one
Some 15 percent of the priests reported going for spiritual direction yearly and 11 percent “when the need arises.”
In various workshops, the more than 100 bishops, priests and seminarians who attended the July 9 event reflected on spiritual practices and spiritual direction, the essence of priesthood, qualities of a priest, charity, obedience and poverty
They shared stories of their vocation and concerns including whether or not seminarians should be allowed to have romantic involvement.
Opus Dei Father Jaime Achacoso said, “Seminaries need training in the celibate lifestyle that has a lot to do with chastity and celibacy after ordination.”
His workshop group believed formators should help seminarians in their struggle while discerning their priestly calling.
“It’s unfair and unjust to lead a woman to thinking a relationship with a seminarian has a future,” a priest said.
Father Jonas Achacoso of Talibon, the central Philippines, suggested that bishops appoint spiritual directors “so priests know where to go” for guidance
Meanwhile, other priests noted that it is difficult for pastors to fit prayer and spiritual direction into their demanding ministry
However, Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales formerly of Lipa, now of Manila,  said at a conference that though prayer alone does not make a priest holy, it is essential and enables a priest to stay in “union with God” and follow Jesus even in suffering
“Prayer and spiritual strength help the priest live the paschal mystery of the cross and teach him how to lead people who are committed to the Church,” observed the bishop, head of the Philippine episcopal Commission on Clergy