The need to provide quality formation and training to the members of Heralds of the Gospel in order to equip them with the spiritual and intellectual means for them to carry out their evangelizing efforts has led to the establishment of educational institutions at all academic levels. Some are fully operational, while others are past the planning stage and are currently in advanced stages of being implemented. Four important initiatives are described below.
Origins and history
In the early Sixties, the first “Heralds of the Gospel”, well before their canonical erection as an private association of Christ’s faithful, were actively engaged in evangelization. Quickly realizing the importance of deepening their knowledge of Catholic doctrine in order to carry out their apostolate, they had recourse to renowned philosophers, theologians and canonists. Many of them were closely associated with the University of Salamanca and were already well known to the founder of the group that would later become Heralds of the Gospel. Many of these distinguished academic figures, such as, Father Arturo Alonso Lobo, Father Marcelino Cabreros de Anta, Father Victorino Rodriguez y Rodriguez, Father Esteban Gómez, Father Antonio Royo Marín, Father Teófilo Urdánoz and Father Armando Bandera were Dominicans. Thus from its inception, the philosophical and theological studies of Heralds of the Gospel has always been marked by a strong Dominican influence.
The unfolding of Heralds of the Gospel’s evangelizing activities and its growing number of participants, led to the creation of a regular program of study in 1982 called “Saint Thomas Aquinas Theological Course of Studies” under the guidance of the aforementioned teachers. In conjunction with the norms established by the Holy See’s “Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis” of 1967 and those set forth in the document “Diretrizes para a Formação dos Presbíteros da Igreja no Brasil” by the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil, this course of study became the basis for the program of formation for its clerical members.
In 2000, the “Saint Thomas Aquinas Theological Course of Studies” was reorganized so that a considerably larger and more diverse group of students could be accommodated.
Following papal approval of Heralds of the Gospel on February 22, 2001, the association underwent significant development, especially at its principal complex in the Diocese of Bragança Paulista. The bishop of the diocese, the Most Reverend José Maria Pinheiro, canonically recognized the course on August 15, 2005, by erecting several diocesan institutes with public juridical personality in the Church with the recommendation that they be affiliated with an ecclesiastical university.
IFAT and ITTA
The Aristotelian-Thomist Philosophical Institute (Instituto Filosófico Aristotélico-Tomista – IFAT) and the Saint Thomas Aquinas Theological Institute (Instituto Teológico São Tomás de Aquino – ITTA) belong to the Clerical Society of Apostolic Life Virgo Flos Carmeli, the priestly branch of Heralds of the Gospel, and their primary goal is offer the best possible preparation for candidates to the priesthood who are members of the society.
Within a year of being established, these two institutes were reorganized at the suggestion of the Most Reverend Benedito Beni dos Santos, then auxiliary bishop of São Paulo and vicar for seminaries in that archdiocese. He was named and continues to serve as General Supervisor of Formation for Heralds of the Gospel. Bishop Beni dos Santos is now Bishop-emeritus of Lorena, Brazil, and still a member of the Episcopal Commission for the Doctrine of the Faith of the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil.
On May 24, 2011, the Congregation for Catholic Education approved the affiliation of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Theological Institute (ITTA) with the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Bolivarian University (Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana – UPB) in Medellín, Colombia.
The primary goal of the Saint Scholastica Philosophical-Theological Institute (Instituto Filosófico-Teológico Santa Escolástica – IFTE) is to provide a solid philosophical and theological formation for the members of the Society of Apostolic Life Regina Virginum, the branch of women religious belonging to Heralds of the gospel, so that they are adequately prepared and can effectively meet the challenges of the new evangelization.
Women’s branch of Heralds of the Gospel saw similar growth with pontifical approval of the Heralds of the Gospel, not only in relation to number of women seeking to enter religious life, but also with respect to new areas in which carry out their apostolate. The education and formation, at first offered to the members of Regina Virginum, was expanded to include all of the young women collaborating with the Heralds so that they too could effectively engage in the lay apostolate.
The Lumen Sapientiae Institute‘s (Instituto Lumen Sapientiae) mission is to offer continuing education to members of Heralds of the Gospel as well as to publish academic journals and other scholarly works.
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