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Seminarians from around the world in St. Augustin:
Sharing the Vision of SVD Internationality

For every seminarian from Europe who entered the St. Augustin Missionspriesterseminar in recent years there are two corresponding seminarians from Asia. Since 1993 there are more seminarians from Indonesia alone who entered the seminary than all the seminarians from the different countries in Europe.

These are some of the astounding figures in the number of seminarians who went to St. Augustin for religious missionary formation from 1993 to 2000. In 1993 four seminarians were accepted, seven in 1994, eight in 1995, five in 1996, six in 1997, nine in 1998, eight in 1999 and nine in 2000.

There were a total of 56 seminarians who entered St. Augustin (for ESP, OTP or ATP) since 1993. Fifteen of them from Europe, three from Africa, two from Latin America and 36 from Asia. Of the 15 from Europe nine came from Poland, three from Slovakia and three from Germany. From Africa, two came from Togo, the other from Ghana. From Latin America, one each from Brazil and Ecuador. In Asia, seven came from the Philippines, six from India, one from Vietnam and 22 from Indonesia. Hence, there are more seminarians from Indonesia alone who entered St. Augustin than all the seminarians from Europe combined: 22 to 15. Still, there are more seminarians from Indonesia than that of other seminarians from other Asian countries combined: 22 to 14. Also, the number of fratres from Asia, 36 is more than 50% than the number of seminarians from the different European countries, 15. Is also important to stress that the number of diocesan seminarians from China has also increased in the recent years, at present, there are thirteen priests and fratres from China who are studying in St. Augustin.

What do these facts reveal? What is the implication of these figures in the reality of religious formation in Germany and in Europe in general? What trends in formation can be deduced from these figures?

The numbers reveal that indeed vocation in Europe, including Germany has drastically declined in recent years. The situation in St. Augustin is a phenomenon that exists in many seminaries in Europe, including in the different SVD seminaries. But the "religious crisis" in Europe is contrasted by the vibrant and promising Churches in Asia. Many Churches in Asia are growing despite economic, cultural and socio-religious pressures. Indeed, there is always a reason to hope amidst the present religious crisis in Europe, the presence of seminarians from Asia, Africa and America who are willing to share the uniqueness of their culture in Dialogue with the German culture is a positive sign of the International character of the Society, a glow in the dark night, a light at the end of the tunnel...