By Daniel Rabourdin
PHOTOS courtesy of the Seminary
It’s one of the bright lights of Catholic France. Nestled on a hillside overlooking the azure Mediterranean sea, the Seminaire de la Castille today has an astonishing 53 seminarians – this, at a time when most of France’s seminaries are nearly empty, and many are quietly closing. What is the secret of the Seminaire? REGINA Magazine’s Daniel Rabourdin recently sat down with Father Jean-Noel Dol, PhD, Superior of the Castille Seminary of the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon to find out.
REGINA: Why should a seminarian choose your seminary?
FATHER JEAN-NOEL DOL: For several reasons! First, we are set in an idyllic environment: on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, in a large estate surrounded by vineyards and mountains, with an 18th century castle.
“Our seminary is built on three clearly defined pillars: 1) fidelity to the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church; 2) primacy of the spiritual life (daily hour of adoration, spiritual accompaniment); 3) a clear commitment to the new evangelization of Europe and our parishes, by developing in our seminarians a true pastoral zeal and knowledge of new means of evangelization; 4) finally, a warm welcome to the new communities and members of new communities as well as the various charisms that come to life in the Universal and local Church.” FATHER JEAN-NOEL DOL
REGINA: Sounds beautiful. Any other reasons?
FATHER JEAN-NOEL DOL: Then, because we live in a vibrant diocese. It is famous in France for its many pastoral initiatives and wealth of ecclesial life.
REGINA: How would you describe your spirituality?
FATHER JEAN-NOEL DOL: Our spirituality is first liturgical, with all services sung together morning, evening and in the middle of the day at Mass. This is so that all of us, in our international diversity, are gathered in the unanimous praise of the Lord.
OUR LITURGY ASPIRES TO BE BEAUTIFUL AND PURE, IN THE SERVICE OF THE ALTAR, in the songs (that borrow from both traditional repertoire and contemporary praises). We are committed to adhere to the liturgical calendar of the Church in marking the difference between weekdays, memories, celebrations and feasts. Every Monday, Mass is celebrated in Latin – the universal language of the Church – and once a month according to the Tridentine liturgy, so our seminarians know the extraordinary form of the rite and are able to celebrate it as priests in the future if it is requested of them.
“In terms of schools of spirituality, we draw on three main sources: 1) Carmelite, with the emphasis on interior prayer; 2) French School of the 17th century (Bérulle, Ollier, etc.), centered on the Incarnation and the spirituality of the priesthood; 3) Finally, Jesuit for the discernment of God’s will and his particular call.” FATHER JEAN-NOEL DOL
REGINA: What is the atmosphere like?
FATHER JEAN-NOEL DOL: The atmosphere in the seminary of Castille is brotherly and joyful. The 50 seminarians are very diverse in their ages, their country of origin, their intellectual capacities, the catholic communities to which they may belong. But everyone knows how to welcome the other, in a true fraternal charity, which prepares to the future communion in the presbyterium of the diocese.
WORKERS IN THE VINEYARD OF THE LORD: “To a young man who wishes to join us, I would ask first if he has discerned his vocation, over time, with the accompaniment of a spiritual father, with an Ignatian retreat. If this is the case, I would ask him if he is ready to give his life, with conviction and generosity to the Lord and the service of the Church, with a real concern for the salvation of souls; and for this if he is ready to spend seven years of spiritual, biblical, theological, pastoral formation to become a priest after the heart of God. If this is the case, welcome to the Castille, and may the Lord continue in him the action that he has started!” – FATHER JEAN-NOEL DOL