The Korean Church has 7 major seminaries. The number of seminarians in these seven seminaries is 1,413 as of 2008. Just this year the Seoul seminary decided to extend its priestly formation by six months to facilitate work for the graduate program.
The Suwon Diocese Seminary had a recent academic symposium in commemoration of its 25th year with an examination of the past, present and plans for the future. Both Catholic Papers had articles on the symposium. Those present on the panel were very candid in what they had to say: not much change from pre-Vatican II ways of thinking. One panelist mentioned there has to be subjects that will enable the students to be messengers of the Gospel to the society in which they live.
The making of the man was also stressed as being very important. One of the panelist mentioned there has been complaints of pride , authoritarianism and other character faults that come from a lack of interest in character formation of our students. Shouldn't the very public thinking of what are considered faults of the clergy be taken into account in the education of our seminarians?
The faculty unlike those in outside colleges do not see the results of their training for they are often changed to other assignments in the diocese. The faculty should be full time, devoted to study, and the recruitment should transcend the diocese , the provinceses and even the country. We should get the best available.
Another panelist mentioned that the changes in knowledge, and teaching has been extraordinary over the last 30 years but he thought the seminary has not kept pace. An effort should be made to form a committee working on the improvement of the curriculum. He stressed that if the education is to been successful, the faculty , the students and the the teaching process has to be first-rate. It is important to have stability in the recruitment of the professors, improve the research meetings and work to get better students. He also mentioned that the number of subjects should be reduced to make room for other areas of study.
Time has to be spend in character building and getting spirits of the Seminarians to shine. Another one thought it was not right to just think that seminarians are waiting to be formed, they also have the obligation to work to form themselves.
The president of the Seminary thanked all present and mentioned the seminary can not be oblivious to the demands of the times and the symposium will do a great deal to prepare the ground for reforming the seminary education program.
The Church in Korea is open to new ideas and better ways of doing things. They are extremely well organized and once they see a need results do follow.