As the Pontifical Scots College launches its new website, Facebook page and Twitter account, Archbishop Leo Cushley of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh reflects on his time as a seminarian, and on the importance of new media.
Feast of Queen Saint Margaret of Scotland, 2015
One of the happiest days of my life was the day I discovered I was going to the Pontifical Scots College. Soon after came equally felicitous news. My pals were going too!
As we arrived in Rome in the autumn of 1979, our prayers and hopes were twofold: that we would become priests and that we would have a great time. Well, I can confirm that we achieved both and, in large measure, that was due to the Scots College. The great friends I’ve never lost. The kindly paternity of the staff who guided us. The experience of being at the centre of the universal Church. The privilege of being close to the Holy Father. The whole cultural, religious and spiritual experience that you only get from being in Rome. Even the cucina was good… !
I pray that the current generation of students at the Scots College can communicate some of that unique experience online and through Facebook, Twitter and so on. In doing so I also hope that our students will be better able to maintain a link with the Catholic community – and, indeed, the wider community – back in Scotland.
Pope Francis has spoken of need for priests to be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep” that they tend to. Conversely, this highlights the need for the flock to know the smell of the pastor. We need to be close to our people, to get to know our people, their cares, their joys, their hopes. That can be difficult, however, if the necessity of seminary life dictates a prolonged residence abroad. The interactive nature of social media, though, will undoubtedly help to shrink the many miles that lie between the Tiber and the Tweed.
It would also be my hope that social media will provide a window into the Scots College for those who may feel called to the priesthood. Despite modern cynicism, many young men still wish to give their lives to the pursuit of the highest ideals. There is no more daring, beautiful or noble adventure than giving your life wholly to Jesus Christ in the holy priesthood and following him wherever he calls to bring the Joy of the Gospel.
The Pontifical Scots College in Rome has a proud history. I am certain that it also has a great future, and I look forward following the unfolding of that story courtesy of the new media.
With every blessing,
+ Leo Cushley
Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh
Pontifical Scots College 1979-1987