CARF Foundation

19 July, 23

bidasoa international seminar

The Bidasoa International Seminar and the CARF Foundation

Both the Bidasoa International Seminary in Pamplona and the CARF Foundation arose from the initiative of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo and the inspiration of St. John Paul II. Today these two institutions dedicate their efforts and resources to the promotion and formation of seminarians and diocesan priests.

How do Bidasoa and the CARF Foundation cooperate?

The relationship that exists between the Bidasoa International Seminary and the CARF Foundation is an example of cooperation and social commitment. Most of the seminarians are able to continue their studies thanks to the generous support of the benefactors of the CARF Foundation, who collaborate financially, according to their possibilities, for that no vocation be lost.

The Bidasoa International Seminar

It is an international seminary attached to the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarra. It was erected by the Holy See in 1988 and has its seat in Pamplona, in the Navarre town of Cizur MenorThe property is located very close to the university campus.

The formation plan of the Bidasoa International Seminary is inspired by the documents of the Second Vatican Council, in particular Optatam totius y Presbyterorum ordinisthe Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis and the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis of the Congregation for the Clergy.

Priests according to the heart of Christ

The purpose of the Bidasoa International Seminary is the vocational accompaniment of future priests and, therefore, "the discernment of vocation, the help to correspond to the call and the preparation to receive the sacrament of Priestly Order with its own graces and responsibilities". Pastores dabo vobis, 61.

bidasoa international seminar

Human, spiritual, pastoral and intellectual formation

At the Bidasoa International Seminary it is essential to enable seminarians to encounter Christ. The work of formation is oriented to the seminarian aspiring to be alter Christus in all aspects of his life, since he will participate through the sacrament of Priestly Orders, "of the same and unique priesthood and ministry of Christ". Presbyterorum Ordinis, 7. Aspirants to the priesthood must be convinced of the need to acquire a mature, balanced and sufficiently consolidated human personality that will make the gift received shine before others and enable them to persevere in following the Master, even in times of difficulty.

The pastoral formation received by the candidates of the Bidasoa International Seminary, by the spiritual director and the formators, is oriented to develop, in each one, the priestly soul; a heart of father and shepherd, soaked by the same feelings of Christ. 

This priestly formation is complemented by the scientific and teaching work carried out at the University of Navarra, where we seek to form by awakening a love for the truth. Especially in the seminarians who find themselves in the Bidasoa International Seminary, emphasis is placed on the importance of study, which prepares them for the future development of priestly ministry in today's world.

Seminarians protagonists of their formative process

During the 35 years of the Bidasoa International Seminary, the same years of existence as the CARF Foundation, almost a thousand seminarians from many countries have matured their priestly vocation accompanied by the formators of this seminary.

Based on the conviction of the importance of personal freedom as an indispensable means to achieve the necessary human, spiritual, intellectual and missionary maturity, they have tried to transmit to each seminarian that each one must be the protagonist of his formative process, knowing that responsible freedom is rooted in an atmosphere of trust, friendship, openness and joy.

This prominence is made possible by the fact that the seminarians, some of whom come from very distant parts of Spain, joyfully share the same formative experience of study, classes, prayer times, pastoral activities, get-togethers and excursions.

Seminarians in union with the bishop of their diocese

The international character constitutes a rich human and ecclesial experience, which helps to increase in each seminarian a catholic, universal and apostolic spirit. Likewise, the Bidasoa International Seminary fosters the union of each seminarian with his bishop and with the priests of his diocesan presbyterate.

Why the CARF Foundation is one of the main benefactors of the Bidasoa International Seminar 

The seminarians of the Bidasoa International Seminary come from different parts of the world. They are sent by their respective bishops in order to receive an adequate formation for their future priestly work in their dioceses. 

It is the bishops who request the scholarships from the University of Navarra, which in turn requests the help of the CARF Foundation. The objective of the foundation is to provide these young people with a solid theological, human and spiritual preparation in the Ecclesiastical Faculties of the University of Navarra and the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Rome). Every year, more than 5,000 benefactors make this possible.

In addition to the formation in the Ecclesiastical Universities, the seminarians need an environment of trust and freedom, a fraternal and familiar atmosphere that facilitates the clear and sincere opening of the heart and the integral formation; they find this environment in the Bidasoa International Seminary.

Throughout the 2022/23 academic year, the CARF Foundation allocated 2,106,689 euros in housing and tuition grants.

YouTube video

Annual meeting between benefactors of the CARF Foundation and seminarians of the Bidasoa International Seminary.

Every year, the CARF Foundation, in collaboration with the Bidasoa International Seminary, organizes a meeting between seminarians and benefactors. An intimate day, in which both parties, benefactor and beneficiary, have the opportunity to get to know each other, experience the Eucharist together and enjoy a lunch and a visit to the seminary and a musical festival that the students prepare as a way of thanking those who make it possible for them to be formed in Bidasoa.

The day ends with a long awaited moment, as those responsible for the Social Action Patronage (PAS) of the CARF Foundation, deliver the cases (backpacks) of sacred vessels to the seminarians who are in their last year. They include all the liturgical objects necessary to celebrate Mass in remote towns or villages where they barely have what they need, including a custom-made alb for each of the future priests.

Finally, adoration before the Blessed Sacrament is shared; and a visit to the wayside shrine of the Mother of Fair Love, located on the campus of the University of Navarra.

"I am very grateful to study at Bidasoa because I can see firsthand the face of the Universal Church. This is because we seminarians at Bidasoa come from more than 15 countries. Another thing that we are indirectly taught at the Bidasoa International Seminary is the attention to the little things, especially in the preparation of liturgical celebrations. This is done not because we want to be perfectionists, but because we love God and want to try to do and present the best of ourselves to God through the little things."

Binsar, 21, from Indonesia.


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