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The Training of a Priest

This article appeared in the July 15, 1965 issue of the Chaldean News.  At the time, Denis Como was a priest in training with Fr. Jacob Yasso to learn Chaldean. Today, Fr. Como is stationed in Amman, Jordan, and also spends time in Irbil, Iraq, teaching at the Chaldean Seminary.

Last month after Sunday Mass one of the men coming out of the church turned to his neighbor and said, “Who was that young priest saying Mass today?” The other turned and answered, “That was the young Murphy boy who went away eight years ago to the seminary and now he is back in his old parish and saying his first public Mass.”

There is more to becoming a priest than just “going away for a long time” as might well be surmised. There was not much questioning of the training of the priest, however, until today when everything within the Church is being probed and modernized.

The training of a Jesuit priest is somewhat longer that that of the diocesan priest because of his specialized work in areas of education which the parish priest does not undertake.

The Jesuit’s training stretches over a period of 15 years during which time he earns his academic degrees and advances in his spiritual formation according to God’s grace and his own abilities.

These years also represent periods of practice teaching in Jesuit schools here in America or in the foreign mission. He is taught how to direct and counsel souls during time of retreats, and he is guided by older priests in the fields of social work, preaching and administration.

Each Jesuit’s training, however, is unique in that it is adapted to the person. There is no such thing as “the typical Jesuit” or the “Jesuit mold.”

As I approach my ordination to the priesthood – less than a year away – I see how unique my own years of training have been.

On my entrance into the Society of Jesus my desire to be a foreign missionary was strong. My professors and superiors respected my desire and built upon it. It was my fortune to spend three years in Baghdad, Iraq, and in preparation for my return I have been allowed to study Arabic and undertake my present task of learning how to be a Chaldean Rite priest.

To adapt to another people is difficult enough, but to adapt to such an extent that I might be just like the Chaldean priests and pastors is an awesome undertaking. Like the many years that have gone into my training until now, I have found that through God’s help and the generosity of people that come into my life, my task is made easier.

Some day soon I shall return to the Middle East and work together with the Chaldean people and their priests in strengthening Christianity in a land that was the mother of the Church’s first missionaries.
article by: Denis Como, S.J.