A Sulpician Perspective

The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has proclaimed a ‘Year of Faith’ from 11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013, the Feast of Christ the King. The principal reason for this year is to tie in to the project of the “new evangelization” which will be the focus of the 13th ordinary synod of bishops in Rome (7-22 October 2012).


The Year of Faith also commemorates other important events in the life of the Church. Most obvious is that fact that the opening date, October 11, commemorates the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II in 1962 by Blessed Pope John XXIII. It also commemorates the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church thirty years later in 1992 by Blessed John Paul II.

The last ‘year of faith’ occurred in 1967-68 in the wake of the Second Vatican Council and in the midst of worldwide turmoil of that era. The Holy Father at the time, Servant of God Pope Paul VI, desired to show the world the strength and continuity of the faith in the midst of the multiple changes that were occurring in the modern world. At the end of that holy year, Paul VI issued the famous Credo of the People of God (1968), a new formulation of the ancient faith of the Church.
The Society of Saint Sulpice rejoices in this opportunity to celebrate a year of faith together. Our seminaries throughout the world will promote a variety of activities in the context of priestly formation to promote an appreciation of the faith and of the need for a renewed commitment to evangelization in our era. The Catechism, which is one of the great “fruits” of the Second Vatican Council, already features prominently in the curricula of our seminaries, and it will be highlighted as well throughout the year.

Sulpician founder Father Jean-Jacques OLIER had his own impressive commitment to promoting the faith in his own era. Not only did he set about reforming the clergy, in order to help reform the Church in the post-Reformation period, but he also issued numerous writings concerning the faith. Most impressive among these, perhaps, are two documents that mirror the desire to communicate the faith effectively and authentically.

The first is his Christian Catechism for the Interior Life (1656), which was compiled in a question and answer format to allow his parishioners and others easy access to the principal teachings of the faith. The second, written in Latin for his fellow Sulpicians, is the Pietas Seminarii Sancti Sulpitii, a text that Olier never completed in his lifetime but which was compiled and expanded by later (1819, 1879) Sulpicians from his earliest draft and subsequent notes. Although the latter is a very short document, the original comprising only fifteen sections, it is a remarkable compendium of spiritual teaching for Sulpicians engaged in priestly formation. Many Sulpicians see the Pietas as the essential statement of Father Olier’s vision of priestly renewal. Both of these documents make excellent material to reflect upon during the Year of Faith.

We invoke the power of the Holy Spirit during this year so that we might indeed be renewed in faith and be better equipped to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in our day!