By OWEN KELLY
AT the end of its first year in new premises at Rothem, near Maastricht, in Holland, the Seminary of Europe is sending out students of five nationalities to seminaries in 22 dioceses in Germany, France, Austria and Scandinavia where they are destined to serve. These countries suffer from a severe shortage of priests.
The germ of the idea of sending priests from European countries which have more ordinands than they need to countries less fortunate was a talk by Coadjutor Archbishop Jachym of Vienna during the congress known as "Catholic Days" which was held there in 1952. He asked for co-operation in solving the dilemma of European dioceses desperately short of priests.
Ile asked Fr. J. J. Dellepoort, a priest of the diocese of Breda, in the Netherlands, and an expert on this problem, to organise another international Catholic congress. again in Vienna. This took place in 1958.
As a result of the second congress, Fr. Dellepoort started a secretariat in Maastricht in 1959. The following year, after discussions between Archbishop Jachym and the Dutch Primate, Cardinal Alfrink, Mgr. Moers, juridically created the Stenonius Foundation in Maastricht in the name of the Dutch Hierarchy.
The foundation, which succeeded the old secretariat, consists of the Institute for European Sacerdotal Exchange and the Seminary of Europe. Mgr. Dellepoort is both director of the institute and rector of the seminary.
The Stenonius Foundation is named after a Danish convert, Nils Stenson, who was a bishop in a largely Protestant part of NorthWest Germany in the 17th century. The institute attached to it consists of a secretariat and an information centre. The seminary is a preparatory school for students who are destined to serve in Germany, Austria, France or Scandinavia as priests.
After their year or so there they move on to a major seminary, usually in the country for which they are destined. At the moment, the seminary is sending students to 12 dioceses in Germany, six in France, two each in Austria and Scandinavia.
The Seminary of Europe moved into its new premises at Rothem only a year ago. There, the students are divided into three language groups, German, French and Scandinavian. Last year they were drawn from the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain and America. and this year they are being joined by Maltese for the first time. With twelve dioceses to be provided for, the German contingent is naturally the largest.
Courses in Latin and the language and literature of the country of destination are provided. The student has an opportunity to spend six weeks in his future diocese during the year in which he is at the seminary.
To give an example of the necessity of an institute such as the Stenonius Foundation, one has only to look at the Church in Scandinavia. In the Diocese of Stockholm, which covers all Sweden, nearly all the priests are nonSwedish. Bishop Taylor of Stockholm is an American Oblate of Mary Immaculate. The Church in Scandinavia has been called "the Forgotten Church" and for many years only the Dutch supplied its handful of priests.