He said he is also diving into the latest edition of the US Catholic bishops’ Program of Priestly Formation (PPF), which was published June 24.
How does the college intend to form future priests? “It’s going to be as the PPF talks about and the Ratio talks about,” Powers said, “an atmosphere of transparency and trust and Christ at the center of all that we do.”
“The vision is really Christ centered,” he said. “The idea is that men become configured to Christ, which means all the virtues of Christ, a heart of Christ, the servant nature of Christ.”
“That’s what we want to form here at the North American College.”
The new rector said that has always been the NAC’s vision, though it has been “articulated in different ways over the years.”
“We’re going to really make sure that is the central focus.”
Powers took over leadership of the college from Father Peter Harman, who finished a six-year period as rector at the end of June, after his term was extended five months.
In early January, a New York judge dismissed a civil lawsuit filed by a former NAC seminarian against Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York and three now-former faculty of the college. The lawsuit included the allegation that the former vice rector of the seminary had given an inappropriate back rub to a subordinate seminarian.
Powers declined to comment on the lawsuit except to say that it had been dismissed.
“But this will be a house of transparency and honesty and trust. And I can guarantee that,” he said, adding that he will ensure a process is in place to deal with accusations of immoral behavior.
“I will make this clear,” he said, “everyone in any seminary, certainly priests, laypeople, personnel, seminarians, need to live moral lives, according to Catholic teaching.”
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“If anyone is aware of something that’s contrary to that, for the sake of the man, for the sake of the Church, for the sake of the college, that has to be discussed, brought to light.”
The Connecticut priest began his formation for the priesthood in 1992. Before he entered the seminary, he graduated with a degree in economics from the University of Notre Dame and went on to work at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), for four years.
“I was based out of New York City and traveled to, had clients in Chicago, New York, on Wall Street, even went to Japan for a short trip, so it was an amazing experience,” Powers said, adding that working in financial consulting gave him professional skills he still uses today.
He said he had felt some pull to the priesthood in high school and college, and while at Andersen, he made an effort to frequently attend daily Mass.
“Then eventually people started coming with me and I thought, if I can help bring people back to the Church or back to God wearing a suit and tie, in a very, you know, high-powered business environment, maybe God’s calling me to do this in a different way.”
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