Battling virus and the ‘invisible malice of malady’, FSSP seminary trusts providence

Augsburg, Germany, Mar 21, 2020 / 09:00 am (CNA).- Most of the community at the European seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter are sick from coronavirus, and the community is relying on providence and uniting itself with the sick throughout the world.

“The virus did its work in the seminary, and now the better part of the priests and half of the seminarians are sick. But all are abandoned to the Providence of God,” the Seminary of Saint Peter wrote in a March 19 update. The seminary is located in Wigratzbad, Germany, about 90 miles southwest of Augsburg.

“At the time of the so unexpected trial, each one measures the grace which is given to us to live these difficult times as true Christians. As the Lord permits evil only for a greater good, we trust that there will be many returns to God, the only one capable of giving meaning to our ephemeral existence on this earth.”

The seminary had earlier said that coronavirus had been carried to the seminary by an Italian confrere. On March 14 it indicated it had been in strict confinement for a week, and that the disease was rapidly spreading through the seminary.

While the seminary has had to reorganize and do everything themselves, “everyone is generous and adapts without difficulty.”

“The quarantine of Lent doubles as a health quarantine, and since ‘all is grace’ we see in it the opportunity for a salutary meditation on the meaning of life. Life is brief and fragile, and if one is worried about one’s health, one must be even more concerned with one’s salvation. The invisible malice of malady invites us to have more confidence in God, and to further augment our prayers and our penances.”

In its March 19 update, the seminary indicated that “in a few days, the first to heal will be able to take over from the newly sick to maintain the spiritual and material life of the house.”

“Of course we assure you all, especially the sick and health care staff, of our proximity and our wishes of good health. May God keep you, sursum corda! Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.”

St. Peter Seminary was founded in 1988, and it serves around 60 French- and German-speaking seminarians of the FSSP.

The FSSP is a society of apostolic life which celebrates the extraordinary form of the Roman rite. It was founded in 1988 by 12 priests of the Society of St. Pius X. The founders left the SSPX to establish the FSSP after the society’s leader, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, consecrated four bishops without the permission of St. John Paul II.

There are currently almost 287 priests and 150 seminarians in the fraternity. It has parishes and chapels in North America, Europe, Oceania, Nigeria, and Colombia.

Fr. Bernhard Gerstle, superior of the fraternity’s German-speaking district, wrote in a March 18 message that “the ‘corona crisis’ shows us how fragile our lives are and how even our highly developed medicine is facing an enormous challenge. In this difficult situation, you should know that we are particularly close to you and your families.”

He added that all the district’s priests, health permitting, are saying Mass in private and offering the graces to the people. “We are of course also available to you in pastoral matters, whereby all participants (especially our priests) are required carefully to observe the hygienic precautionary measures.”

“We hope and pray that as far as possible none of our confreres and believers will be permanently harmed and that the painful limitations of church life will not last long,” Fr. Gerstle wrote. “Let us also see the current test as an opportunity to set the right priorities in our lives even more than before and to strengthen and deepen our relationship with God.”

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