In 1975, Fr. Neil McQuillan was named Vocation Director and one year later the congregation opened a formation program within Regina Cleri Seminary in the diocese of Ponce with five candidates. All of us in Puerto Rico pray for young people that they will accept the call to a religious missionary life. We are working hard with the lay people who frequent the Sanctuary, organize projects and raise funds for our missions.
- Fr. John Sakovich, a lay graduate from Holy Ghost Prep, was named the first Director of Formation. The program was eventually moved to Bayamón, where the students attended the newly opened Dominican School of Theology.
- Fr. Patrick Sheils was the first Novice Master, but the program failed to function as hoped. Fr. Sakovich was sent to Duquesne University to prepare himself for the next novitiate class. Fr. Neil McQuillan assumed the directorship of the formation house.
New Students, New Novice Master
For several years about a hundred young men have walked 100 miles from one Spiritan parish to another, right over the central mountain range, in order to raise consciousness of the need for priests and missionaries. Candidates from Brazil, accompanied by Fr. Antonio Larangeira who succeeded Fr. John as Novice Master, joined our own students in our novitiate program. Fr. Antonio directed the writing of a Formation Guide and our program began to flourish, with all three levels of formation functioning at capacity. A larger residence was built in 1990 with room for 14 students. Unfortunately, with the declining number of candidates the large building is no longer needed, and is now being leased as a medical facility for the chronically ill, providing income to the foundation.
Fr. Victor Cabezas, former provincial of the Spanish Province assumed the role of novice master for several years, until the lack of candidates here forced the moving of the novitiate to Trinidad/Tobago, where our last candidate did his novitiate.
Mission Trips for Students
Students in different classes were sent for mission experiences to Mexico, Guadalupe, French Guyana and finally Brazil. Sending our younger members abroad meant many sacrifices in Puerto Rico and some parishes have had to be returned to the dioceses. But the young members gained a solid experience of mission ad extra, and returned to Puerto Rico with a sense of the universal mission of the Church.
At the beginning of Fr. Jose’s administration, Fr. Jonas Rivera, a Puerto Rican, opened a new International Mission in Santo Domingo. Recently, Fr. Carmelo was sent to Tefé in the Amazon for three terms and will open a new parish in Manaus, Brazil.
To help us, two confreres from Nigeria were sent to a rural parish in Arecibo and to the Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit. When the Nigerians completed their commitment with us, they were replaced by confreres from Haiti.
Present and Future
At present we continue to work in the Fatima parish of Orocovis and the Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit in Dorado. There remains only a remnant of the many members from the American Eastern Province who once labored in Puerto Rico.
Through our websites at www.espiritanos.com and www.santuario-del-espiritu-santo.com we continue our efforts at recruitment, and our mission animation programs aimed at the laity. We place our trust in the Holy Spirit and are confident that although Spiritans will come and go--as we have since our arrival in Puerto Rico-- the Holy Spirit is the constant and faithful overseer of all authentic Christian ministry and in particular that of the Spiritans.
By Cornelius (Neil) T. McQuillan, C.S.Sp., Psy.D.
Los Espiritanos en Puerto Rico, P. Antonio Laranjeira and novices of 1987