Recently, our organization RECOWA and her sister PACTPAN engaged a given number of senior seminarians and their formators on what is generally called ratio fundamentalis and synodality.  Information reaching the Director of RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA directly from the Secretary General of RECOWA-CERAO indicates that the venue was the Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Kaduna. The message informed us that this meeting of minds was abuzz with insightful discussions as Rev. Fr. Vitalis Anaehobi, Secretary General of the Reunion of Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA), and Rev. Fr. Barnabas Shabayang, Nigerian President of the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN), held a significant seminar. The event, attended by 170 seminarians (Theology years 1-4) and formators, focused on the critical themes of the review of the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionalis Sacerdotalis requested by the synthesis report of the 16th Ordinary Assembly of Synod of Bishops on Synodality and Synodality in general.

The seminar unfolded through three key presentations:

1.            General Presentation of the Synod on Synodality: Rev. Fr. Vitalis Anaehobi delivered an enlightening talk on the historical development and significance of Synodality. He outlined the journey from the launching of the Synod on Synodality on October 9, 2021, to the national and continental stages, culminating in the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality held in Rome in October 2023.

2.            Brief Presentation of Ratio Fundamentalis: Rev. Fr. Barnabas Shabayang provided a concise overview of Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionalis Sacerdotalis, the guiding document for priestly formation in the Catholic Church.

3.            Ratio Fundamentalis vs. the Synthesis Report: Rev. Fr. Vitalis Anaehobi delved into the requirements of the synthesis document concerning the formation of ordained ministries, comparing it with the principles outlined in Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionalis Sacerdotalis.        

Following the presentations, a dynamic session ensued where formators and seminarians shared their perspectives on the Synodal Assembly’s call to review Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionalis Sacerdotalis. Key areas of discussion included:

•             Implication of Women in the Formation of Ordained Ministry: The inclusion of women in seminary formation sparked significant debate. While some viewed it as a progressive step, concerns were raised about potential challenges. A past experience with a nun in the formation team of the seminary, described as overly inquisitive, was cited as a cautionary example. Questions were also raised about the roles women would play and whether they would have voting rights alongside other formators.

•             Training on Co-responsibility: Emphasis was placed on the need for training that fosters shared responsibility within the Church.

•             Reality and People-Oriented Formation: The need for a formation process that is grounded in real-life situations and focused on serving the community was highlighted.

Overall, the seminar provided a platform for robust dialogue, with contributions from both formators and seminarians. The consensus on involving women in seminary formation, albeit with caution, marked a pivotal point in the discussions. This engagement underscores the Church’s commitment to evolving its formation processes in response to contemporary challenges and the insights of the faithful.

The seminar concluded with a collective commitment to further explore these themes, ensuring that the formation of future priests remains relevant and responsive to the needs of the Church and society.

The Acting Rector of the Seminary, Rev. Fr. Dr. Samuel Sakaba expressed his satisfaction for the choice of having Good Shepherd Seminary as the first beneficiary of the initiative. He thanked the formators and the seminarians for their active participation. He equally expressed his gratitude to the two facilitators: Rev. Fr. Barnabas Shabayang and Rev. Fr. Vitalis Anaehobi. RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA which is the mouthpiece of RECOWA-CERAO congratulates the Secretary General for his efforts in representing and presenting a positive image of this organization to the media world.