Catholic Church

Optatam Totius

Full text of Optatam Totius.


Fostering vocations is of utmost importance to the whole Church since vocations are drawn from families. All, families and clergy alike, should seek to foster vocations and, when identifying a young man who is well disposed, do what is possible to allow him to pursue his calling. Minor seminaries should both foster vocations as well as “be so arranged that [students] can easily continue [studies] elsewhere should they choose a different state of life.” (OT, 3) Major seminaries, in contrast, are focused on the formation of shepherds of souls “after the model of our Lord Jesus Christ, teacher, priest and shepherd.” (OT, 4) Students must be carefully prepared in doctrine and all that is necessary to minister to the flock. Similar to priests, the love and veneration of the Virgin Mary by seminarians should be supported and fostered since she is the mother of all disciples.

The disciplines of seminary life are not only to protect the community, but also for “self-mastery…solid personal maturity… and other dispositions of mind…which very greatly aid the ordered and fruitful activity of the Church.” (OT, 11) The whole of seminary should assist seminarians to foster habits to be carried into their priestly service and help the freely answer God’s call for them. Students should be formed well in the study of Sacred Scripture since it is the soul of theology. (OT, 16) They should be well versed in philosophy, theology, and other religions “so that they may learn to refute… errors and be able to communicate the full light of truth to those who do not have it.” (OT, 16) Their time in seminary should include not only studies, but also pastoral service to others. The training and fostering of seminarians is of utmost importance for “the hope of the Church and the salvation of souls is being committed to them.” (OT, 21)

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