By Gregory L. Tracy
The North American College, frequently called simply the NAC by those familiar with it, is located just up the hill from St. Peter’s square and is the home for seminarians and others from the US studying in Rome.
The college’s website describes it this way:
The prospect of living and studying in Rome offers an environment that is replete with unique opportunities that enhances the personal preparation of one who is aspiring to priesthood.
As an ancient capital of the world, the city of Rome gives evidence of the glory of a civilization whose influence once spanned the globe. To this day, the city maintains its quality of significant international prominence. Rightly called the Eternal City, Rome unceasingly testifies to the courage and dedication of saints such as Peter and Paul, Agnes and Lawrence, among many others, who nourished the faith of the early Church through their martyrdom. This patrimony of faith is preserved, fostered and advanced in the universal context of the See of the successor to Saint Peter.
The experience of separation from the people, places and things of home helps to lay bare deeper resources of self-confidence, calls for a more intimate reliance on the Lord, and forges strong bonds of support among faculty and students. The life of prayer and study in Rome, as well as the chance for periodic European travel, tend to deepen not only the seminarian’s theological education but also his vision of self, the Church and the world.
The individual seminarian, his home diocese, and indeed the Church in the United States, Australia, and Canada, benefit from such broadening opportunities. Our goal always remains to send home holy, faithful priests for service to the dioceses of North America, men who can be a bridge between the “new world” and the ancient See of St. Peter.
In 1884, the North American College was granted pontifical status placing it under the special patronage of the Apostolic See and the care of the Holy Father. The College, therefore, is the direct concern of the Congregation for Catholic Education and is under the immediate supervision of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Its Board of Governors is composed of one elected bishop from each of the fourteen episcopal regions of the United States. The priestly formation program of the College is governed by the principles and directives enunciated in the documents Optatam Totius of the Second Vatican Council, Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis of the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, and the Program of Priestly Formation of the Bishops of the United States.
The seminary community is currently composed of students sponsored by dioceses from across the United States and Australia who devote themselves to personal formation for priestly ministry under the attentive guidance, supervision and evaluation of a formation faculty of priests and religious.
In this house of formation, seminarians deepen their awareness of the meaning and challenges of priesthood through their theological studies, through prayerful reflection on the revealed Word of God and the Tradition of the Church and its meaning for the modern world, as well as through a variety of pastoral service opportunities.
When I spoke to Deacon Tom and Kevin I asked them to reflect on it was like to be in Rome during this important time and if they had an opportunity to watch Pope Benedict the XVI’s departure from the Vatican yesterday as well as any other thoughts on his pontificate they would like to share.
Gregory L. Tracy is managing editor of The Pilot, the newspaper of the archdiocese of Boston.