COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 12, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Seminarians from the only Pontifical College in the U.S. have an awe-inspiring approach for confronting abortion head-on. Dressed in full regalia of a black cassock, a traditional red sash, and armed with a rosary, the seminarians descend in a powerful show of force every Saturday on a local abortion facility to confront with prayer what the seminary’s rector calls the “poison of abortion.”
Father James Wehner, rector of the Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, says he believes that seminarians need to “see visibly the forces of evil at work, and respond with an act of faith in which prayer becomes the greater force.”
“American culture is a blessing, but it is also poisoned,” he said. “The clergy, particularly priests, need to be able to confront that poison, not run away and hide from it. That means we have to confront it head-on.”
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The Josephinum encourages its seminarians to pray at one of two nearby abortion facilities every Saturday. The young future priests alternate every week between each facility. Once each semester, the entire community, including priests, faculty, and staff — nearly 200 people — descend upon one of the abortion centers for an all-out prayer invasion. Fr. Wehner personally leads these prayer crusades.
“We are there to pray. I am teaching our men to be men of prayer and to lead other people in prayer. That is our primary and first responsibility,” he told LifeSiteNews.com.
The young seminarians are taught to consider their prayer as a spiritual challenge to unjust laws that strip away the lives of the most vulnerable, and morally destroys the lives of others who participate in the gruesome business of killing human life in the womb.
“The point of all of this is that wherever man is suffering — in this case, an unborn child, a woman who is having the abortion, those who are facilitating the abortion — the Church has to be present to these people, primarily by prayer,” said Fr. Wehner.
Fr. Wehner explained to LifeSiteNews that the “overall theology that we are promoting with the seminarians is the New Evangelization, [which] moves us into the promotion of an authentic humanism and a culture of life.”
“The New Evangelization means that wherever we find a new situation — good or bad — the Church must be able to be present in that situation…and the Church is an expert in humanity. So, when man or society finds itself sick, the Church needs to be present.”
“So, if we are killing the unborn, the Church needs to be present.”
“For too long, I think, we Catholics turned in on ourselves. We were comfortable in our ghetto neighborhoods to the point where we became intimidated by others who are very vocal. Now we need to open our mouths.”
Fr. Wehner pointed out that the high percentages of Catholics contracepting reveals the failure of leaders in the Church to pass on authentic Catholic teaching. “It’s not enough to say ‘well, that’s wrong,’” he said, “but you need to be able to explain why.”
“We are training our future priests to convincingly and catechetically bring to our people the Gospel in a way that people can receive it and understand it so that their lives can be changed by it.”
“We are forming new evangelizers. These [will be] priests who not only know the Gospel, but who will be able to teach it and articulate it to people who live in a pluralistic society.”
Since Fr. Wehner became the rector of the Josephinum in 2009, the enrollment has shot up by 53 percent. There are now 180 seminarians who are being trained to fearlessly engage the culture. They are being trained to be what the Josephinum calls “renaissance men” who can draw from the culture all that is consistent with the Gospel of Life.
Seminarians from the Josephinum attended the recent March for Life in Washington, with more then 80% of their community participating.
“This is just one manifestation of what we are going to be seeing in the next generation of priests,” said Fr. Wehner. “Every generation makes a contribution to the Church. I am very excited and very enthusiastic about what the next generation of priests is going to bring to Catholics in the United States.”