From the beginning of the Community, young men received the call to priesthood. Pierre Goursat very quickly perceived the challenge for the Church to have priests sharing with their lay brothers and sisters the same life of prayer, the same desire for holiness and the same fire to proclaim the Gospel. Emmanuel priests, as they are commonly called, are incardinated in the dioceses and available for the universal mission of the Church, and are called to live fully their community involvement.
“The different states of life are articulated together without removing individual responsibilities but living a fraternal relationship that is based on community belonging.” This communion lived between priests and laity becomes as an illustration of the teachings on the collaboration between priests and laity of Vatican Council II.
The Emmanuel Community now numbers 265 priests, more than 80 seminarians, and about 10-15 young people in different houses for a year of discernment (Saint Joseph year). Life and community formation are integral to the journey and discernment of seminarians.
” Being a priest is not a” job “but a vocation in its own right that involves my whole being. To choose to answer the call of God and of the Church is first of all to devote myself totally to God and to give him my whole life. Yes, before I act, I am first given to Christ, whether I have time or not, whether I am overwhelmed or not: I am consecrated to God to give God to the world, to give his presence. ” Fr. Paul
The majority of Emmanuel’s priests minister in parishes (85 parish missions are currently entrusted to a priest who is a member of the Community). Others have varied ministries with young people (chaplaincies, student homes, mission schools …) or in hospital chaplaincies. Others finally participate in the training of future priests.
Some may be sent on mission to other countries or continents. In all these places of apostolate, together with other priests, they form fraternities of life and mission: common residence, daily sharing of prayer and pastoral activities. They also participate in the fraternal and local missionary life of the Emmanuel Community.
In what characterizes the Emmanuel Community more, the priests are called to be:
- Men burned by the love of the Heart of Jesus, especially in adoration,
- Living the mission on a daily basis, in compassion and evangelization,
- Supported by fraternal and community life with their lay brothers and sisters of the Emmanuel Community.
- Faithful to the teaching of the Church and docile to the Holy Spirit,
- Incarnated in dioceses and living in the heart of the world to give Emmanuel, “God with us”.
The first year of training (so-called propaedeutic year) takes place at the Saint-Joseph House (Namur in Belgium , Abidjan in Ivory Coast, Salvador in Brazil). Each house embraces the culture and environment of the youth. Young men who have the desire to become priests live there a spiritual, intellectual, community, missionary time, thus a foundation year.
They are then sent to different seminaries or training institutes in various countries, continuing their community journey and in contact with the families of the Emmanuel Community and the Church in general. In addition to a philosophical and theological formation faithful to the magisterium of the Church, the seminarians receive a specific formation, both missionary spiritual, in connection with the charism of the Emmanuel.
“When I was 27, the age limit for my military service as a doctor, I providentially met Fidesco. I had no Christian education and lived a spiritual quest that seldom crossed the Church. In other words, I had never thought of becoming a priest and was full of plans for my future. Both surprised and touched by Fidesco’s missionary cooperation goals, I decided to go with them. During the year of preparation, I discovered the Emmanuel Community, Paray-le-Monial and a joyful and authentic Church face that brought down my negative prejudices. In Guinea, I practiced as a dispensary doctor, in very bare living conditions. Every day, with the other cooperants, we went to Mass celebrated in the local language, and had a common prayer. As I went, I reread my life and took more time to pray. One day, before the Blessed Sacrament, looking at the Lord, without thinking of more, I said to him, “I want to put you in the first place.” The idea of the priesthood then crossed my mind, but I rejected it because I was not ready. The meeting with the life of Maximilian Kolbe then pushed me forward. Back in France, I resumed my internship, but the question always tapped me. I decided to dedicate the bridge of August 15 to pray until God answered me! And on the second day, I felt the strength to say yes, to give up medicine and devote my life to the priesthood. It was the 50th anniversary of the death of Father Kolbe. At that moment, I felt a deep joy and a great peace invade me. I have never stopped giving thanks! “ (Fr. Christophe)
“The priest of the Emmanuel Community is at the service of the Church and the world.
He is a man who has been personally touched by the love of God and has heard the call of Jesus to follow him. In response, he seeks, in his daily life, to love Jesus and to serve him. In the daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, in listening to the Word of God. This love seizes him and pushes him to meet the men and women of this world so that they in turn discover how much they are loved by God. The priest of Emmanuel is therefore in a special way a priest for the mission. But he also realizes that he needs others to keep this zeal for the mission. He is no better than others and he knows that evangelization bears fruit when it is lived together with other lay brothers, sisters and consecrated people. That’s why fraternal life is very important to him! The Emmanuel Community is a family where he knows he can achieve together with his brothers and sisters in the community his call to be holy. In joy, and in a spirit of praise, he seeks to always better serve others and especially the poorest. “ (Fr Fabien)