|Fr Vincent McMahon LC works apostolically in Holland.|
Netherlands, June 4, 2008. Fr Vincent McMahon, a Legionary of
Christ priest, has carried out pastoral work in the Netherlands
for almost two decades. In 2006, he began serving as
a spiritual director in the seminary of the diocese of
Haarlem. In the following interview, he shares some of his
In what seminary do you serve as a spiritual
Fr Vincent: I work in the Haarlem seminary,
very close to Amsterdam. The bishop, His Excellency Joseph Maria
Punt, is very faithful and dynamic. The rector of the
seminary is Monsignor Jan Hendriks, who is also very capable
and fervent. About 10 years ago, he attended a course
for seminary formators organized by the Legionaries of Christ. He
is also an expert in canon law with a doctoral
degree from a Roman university and is a model of
fidelity in all areas. It is a pleasure to have
a bishop and a rector like these. Thanks to them,
the doctrine, discipline, and liturgy are at a very high
The building is new, not very large,
situated in a forest between tulip fields. It is one
of the most beautiful places in Holland, and is very
close to Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Leiden, etc.
is the situation of the seminaries in Holland?
Fr Vincent: All of the seminaries in the country were
closed in 1968 and replaced by external theology faculties. Some
seminaries were reopened as the years went by. Haarlem reopened
When and how did you begin your
work in the seminary?
Fr Vincent: I started
working there 2 years ago. The bishop and the rector
esteem the Legion for its balanced formation. The only challenge
was that my appointment in Haarlem could not take me
away from my parish work in the diocese of Roermond.
This was solved, not without some effort, by sending another
Legionary priest to substitute for me in the parish during
the days when I would be at the seminary. In
this way, I am able to carry out my pastoral
work in two dioceses: Roermond in the south, and Haarlem
in the north.
What is the work of a
spiritual director in a diocesan seminary?
Fr Vincent: As a
spiritual director, I am part of the team of formators.
I live at the seminary three days a week. There,
I receive the seminarians. In principle, they should all have
spiritual direction at least once a month, but thanks be
to God, almost all of them come every week. The
seminarians themselves ask for spiritual direction; I do not call
What are some of the tasks you carry
out for your mission?
Fr Vincent: Some of my
activities include: being in charge of the liturgy at the
seminary (this is a great challenge, since the Dutch gain
perfect mastery over all the rites from their first year);
attending a weekly council meeting; preaching monthly retreats and yearly
spiritual exercises; and going to the meals and acts of
piety with the seminarians.
Monsignor Hendriks insists very
much that the priest who works in the seminary should
be a model in everything: doctrine, human formation, liturgical formation,
pastoral skills, preaching, etc.
In your opinion, what
can the charism of the Legionaries of Christ contribute to
the formation of diocesan seminarians?
Fr Vincent: They already
receive the richness of the priestly spirituality of the Church,
but they receive it in a short period of time.
The Legionary spirituality can offer an enrichment, an opportunity to
go deeper in some fields, especially in Christ-centeredness, charity in
dealings, a pastoral sense, and joy. At the same time,
I realize that I learn a lot from them: their
personal discipline, their sense of the liturgy, and their love
for the Church. They are very edifying.