For the record, if I had to choose between following a man of God (as a teacher) who was full of the Holy Spirit, expressed the genuine love of God, and knew the Bible backwards and forwards or someone with an M.Div from the best school in the world (and maybe a PhD to boot) and seminary formation but who had none of the love of God or any sense of the Holy Spirit, I would choose the former. Of course, ideally, you would have both: holy men who are well educated and trained to become priests.
Is there a better way? Can priests be trained “on the cheap”? The seminary is an invention of the Council of Trent. Before then, it was something like what they do in Orthodoxy. The elite were monks, trained in universities and their communities. Parish priests are local men who were brought up in the parish and learned their “stuff” from childhood, and were chosen as viri probati to be ordained for the parish. They often just celebrated the Liturgy, and a priest-monk would come in once in a while to preach and hear confessions. That system leaves something to be desired, but there is a lot of wisdom to it. It is a notion of priestly training based on an apprenticeship and years of hands-on experience.
Whether it is right to say that only mainstream churches train the clergy properly and “continuing” churches are beneath contempt depends on the beholder’s viewpoint. Perhaps one particular “beholder” should have stayed with his owners in the American Episcopal Church, as there was no justification for his going to a pretty little neo-baroque church in the city where he lives. Officialdom and institution are more important than conscience and genuine grievances with the so-called “mainstream” bodies.Following orders coming from the official authority does not justify just anything. That was the most significant principle that came out of the Nuremberg Trials in 1946.
Resuming, a priest should be cultured and able to reason with all social classes. First of all he should be a devout believer and concerned for the spiritual good of his flock. Thirdly, a degree of professionalism and competence in “priestcraft” is needed. A badly celebrated Mass is unedifying! Good manners are essential. The quality of being a good cleric is being increasingly questioned, when the cassock and collar are used to conceal evil and wrongdoing. Corruption is proper to institutions and the men who use them for their own ends. This is why Catholicism can survive outside these institutions and renew itself according to extraordinary means – a principle foreseen in canon law. Salus animarum suprema lex – the salvation of souls is the highest law.