As I wrap up my time today in Omaha working at the Institute here, I thought I would sum up in a sentence my personal experience of the core mission of this holy place:
To aid bishops in the formation of well-integrated “men for others” who ceaselessly desire to be radically conformed to the priestly heart of Jesus Christ in service to the Church.
While the practical specifics that instantiate this lofty mission are complex and many, I’m convinced that if this essential vision is not the most basic and animating principle of all priestly formation, all the practicalities, no matter how excellent or effective, will never succeed in serving the only reformation worthy of the name Catholic: the reformation of the saints.
Pope Francis’ captured so well what I see IPF is after:
Moreover, the consequence of loving the Lord is giving everything — truly everything, even our life — for him. This is what must distinguish our pastoral ministry; it is the litmus test that tells us how deeply we have embraced the gift received in responding to Jesus’ call, and how closely bound we are to the individuals and communities that have been entrusted to our care. We are not the expression of a structure or of an organizational need: even with the service of our authority we are called to be a sign of the presence and action of the Risen Lord; thus to build up the community in brotherly love.
Not that this should be taken for granted: even the greatest love, in fact, when it is not constantly nourished, weakens and fades away. A lack of vigilance — as we know — makes the Pastor tepid; it makes him absentminded, forgetful and even impatient. It tantalizes him with the prospect of a career, the enticement of money and with compromises with a mundane spirit; it makes him lazy, turning him into an official, a state functionary concerned with himself, with organization and structures, rather than with the true good of the People of God. Then one runs the risk of denying the Lord as did the Apostle Peter, even if he formally presents him and speaks in his name; one obscures the holiness of the hierarchical Mother Church making her less fruitful. — Profession of Faith with the Bishops of the Italian Episcopal Conference, May 23, 2013