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Spiritual Director in a Seminary in Holland
Interview with Fr Vincent McMahon LC on his work in the major seminary of the diocese of Haarlem, Holland.

Fr Vincent McMahon LC works apostolically in Holland.
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 experiences.

In what seminary do you serve as a spiritual director?

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 level.

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.

What 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 in 1995.

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 them.

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.


A Light in Holland - Artículo

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