2. REGARDING THE QUALITY OF THE FORMATION
The report proceeds to try to demonstrate the poor quality of formation in the Theological Institute presenting a series of findings completely wrong:
Report (Point III, 2 and Conclusion): “The seminary is dependent on visiting professors for many of the courses and the quality of the formation program, from discernment of a calling, to the four pillars of formation, to the evaluation of candidates, must be substantially improved”.
ANSWER: The observation is wrong since the visiting professors are not more than 30% of the faculty every year and they are mainly regular visiting professors coming back every year. In any case, the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome (PUL) approved any visiting professors that teach at the Institute. A Professor that comes to impart a seminar of studies does not require the approval from the PUL. All the teaching curriculum of the Institute is strictly monitored, year by year by the PUL.
Report (Point III, 3): “A structure of prerequisite course requirements for the appropriate sequencing of courses is lacking. For example, a seminarian’s decision to register for a class may be highly influenced by the availability of a visiting professor, more so than by the logical sequence of the course requirements.
ANSWER: This statement is false. The institute works with a program approved by the Lateran University that includes two years of philosophy and four years of theology. This Plan is divided into three cycles: propaedeutical cycle (as needed), first cycle (three years), and second cycle (three years). These cycles are organized in a logical sequence. The courses are offered in a minimum of six years, with no maximum, depending on the spiritual, emotional and academic maturity of each particular seminarian. The Institute offers the courses pre-established by the Council of the Institute following the annual sequence of cycles. Therefore, the Institute scheduled the courses one year in advance, and then, if a permanent professor cannot cover one course, or the Institute considers suitable to invite a professor for its academic prestige, the Institute will make the arrangements with the faculty. Upon completion of the program, the seminarian is issued a Bachelor’s Degree from the Lateran University.
Report (Point III, 4): While English is the primary language of communication in the Archdiocese of Agana, the seminary does not have a standard language of instruction.
ANSWER: The Institute has acquired and follows the ESL program of Cambridge University Press "Ventures." There are three stable faculty members that teach English, and the program offers four levels of English Language during the propaedeutical years. Also, the seminarians are required to study Chamorro language (colloquial and liturgical), four semesters of Latin, Basic Greek, and Hebrew and have the possibility to study Italian.
Report (Point III, 5): Proficiency in reading, writing or speaking English for college level work is not required. Translators are used. Some students and even professors struggle with English as their second language, potentially affecting comprehension of subject matter.
ANSWER: The reality proves contrary to this assertion. Some of our graduates have continued studies at the Lateran University of Rome and have achieved the highest grades in their Licentiate and Doctorate studies. We have received personal commendations from the Rector Magnificus of the Lateran University (who spent time in December 2013 at the Institute) praising the formation that our students have received at the Theological Institute. The exposure of the students to different languages and cultures is a source of enrichment and not an impediment. All our students conclude their formation at the Institute speaking at least two or three languages.
Report (Point III, 7): The Blessed Diego Theological Institute does not offer a U.S. accredited bachelor’s degree, nor can seminarians earn a master’s degree through the Institute.
ANSWER: Seminarians are granted a degree from the PUL, which is internationally recognized by any Pontifical University and many civil universities in all the world, including the United States. To date, the graduated seminarians have not experienced any difficulty matriculating to an institute for graduate studies to obtain a Masters or Doctorate degree.
Report (Point III, 8): There is a lack of consideration given to the educational diversity of the students. That is to say, distinction needs to be made between a high school graduate-seminarian versus a seminarian is holding a college degree.
ANSWER: All our students receive personalized formation. Students, faculty, and officials at the Institute establish close relationships that facilitate dialogue. Student to professor ratio are 5:1 or 10:1 on average; classes are never over-populated which allows significant “consideration” and specialized attention in every case.
Report (Point III, 9): A liberal art program of studies is lacking
ANSWER: The Philosophical and Theological programs followed by the Institute are approved by the Lateran University of Rome and by the Congregation for Catholic Education in the Vatican. This program is the same followed by many Pontifical Universities and affiliated institutes. The formation includes several humanistic courses. If the Visitation Committee does not agree with the program of studies, the proper authority to forward this observation is the Congregation for Catholic Education and the PUL, and not the Theological Institute.
Report (Recommendation and Conclusion): It is recommended that the seminary seek formal accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) to ensure this quality of formation.
ANSWER: The organ that ensures the quality of the formation imparted at the Theological Institute is the Lateran University of Rome, a Pontifical University. The Visiting Committee’s observation on the adequacy of the Lateran University lacks complete regard for the nature of the Pontifical affiliation, and its prestige. The Blessed Diego Luis the San Vitores Catholic Theological Institute Library houses one of the best library collections of theology in the Pacific insular region (see PPF 184). No mention of this very hard accomplishment was made by the Visitation Committee Report.
3. REGARDING Pastoral formation
The Report claims that “visiting homes” is an approach “predominantly” of the Neocatechumenal Way. Also here the Report seems to ignore that this is requested by Canon Law:
Report (Point 4): The pastoral approach is predominantly shaped by Neocatechumenal Way. For example, there is a significant emphasis on home visitations and inviting individuals to the Neocatechumenal Way catechesis. “New Evangelization” is understood narrowly in terms of the practices of the Neocatechumenal Way.
ANSWER: The seminarians work in parishes when they go for the pastoral training. When the seminarians visit the houses of the parishioners they proclaim the love of God and the Gospel. This is a help to the parish priest who is normally engrossed by administrative work in the parish, and who does not have the time to fulfill the canonical obligation of visiting the houses of his parishioners (CIC. 529, section 1). The priest formed at the RMS of Guam regularly visit parishioners in their homes to get to know them better.