LATVIA – A bright future for the priesthood
Latvia lies on the Baltic Sea, sandwiched between its northern neighbour, Estonia, and Lithuania to the south. Lutherans make up the majority of the population, with 55%, but at the same time another quarter of the population living here are Catholics.
Although there is a grave shortage of priests in Latvia, the life of the Catholic Church has grown stronger ever since the political changes after the fall of communism. Nonetheless, new priests are urgently needed. Hence it is good news that there are currently 19 young men preparing for the priesthood at the one and only Catholic seminary in the country, in the capital Riga. ACN provides regular support for the seminary every year. And this year once again, thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to help with 9,500 Euros. But Latvia is not a wealthy country, and the seminary is dependent on outside help. The Latvian Catholics do what they can to help, but this is mostly in the form of food, above all fruit and vegetables. It certainly helps, but the seminary also needs money in order to be able to keep going.
The rector, Father ImantsMedveckis writes to us, „We are delighted to have successfully concluded the 2015/2016 academic year, thanks to the help of ACN.“ Back in the summer one priest and one deacon were ordained. The seminary is striving to provide a solid all-round formation of these young men – not only academically and theologically, but also from a pastoral perspective. „Thanks to our professors, who work selflessly in our seminary, we are able to provide our seminarians with the necessary philosophical and theological formation. At the same time, all the seminarians gain pastoral experience in a wide range of different spheres – with children and young people, with the elderly and with young couples“, Father Imants tells us.
This year there were many beautiful events for these future priests in Riga, including a visit to the World Youth Day in Cracow, which they all attended and which for them was „an exceptional experience“, as Father Medveckis reports. In addition to this there was a visit in May to the Latvian capital by Cardinal Piero Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, who is also, so to speak, something like the „Foreign Minister“ of the Vatican. At the same time the cardinal met with the priests and the seminarians at the seminary. „This visit has considerably strengthened the Catholic Church in Latvia“, Father Medveckis says. Now the Catholics of the country are hoping that Pope Francis may perhaps visit them as well in the near future.
On behalf of all his seminarians, the rector wants to thank everybody who has helped to support the seminary once again this year. “We are most grateful to all the benefactor and we offer a special Mass every month for the intentions of all our benefactors“, he writes.