Saturday, March 05, 2011

Big Doings

It can be rather discombobulating to encounter a disembodied voice in church, especially one as deep as our Cardinal’s; but you all seem to be getting quite used to it. Thank you for your attentiveness to our Archbishop last week, and your game participation in the Appeal In-Pew Commitment program. I think that, like me, you might not choose that as what you want to do at Mass on Sunday, but you see how important the work of the Appeal is, and support it for that reason. So thank you.

Because many of you commented on it immediately after Mass, one thing seems to have caught your attention in all that the Cardinal said: that we are opening our own seminary here in Washington. Certain details have yet to be finalized, but I can share with you what the plan is, so that you can better understand and rejoice in this new and exciting development.

First of all, this seminary will be what used to be called a “minor” or college seminary, or a pre-theologate, not a “major” seminary or theologate. The reason I say, “used to be” is that such seminaries almost disappeared. Over the past fifty years, the number of men responding to priestly vocations dwindled, and those who came, came later – partly because even zealous priests encouraged men to wait until they were older. High school seminaries are all but extinct!

When the small St. Pius X Seminary in Scranton PA, to which Washington used to send men, closed about ten years ago, Cardinal McCarrick started to send our collegians to Dunwoodie in New York. Now that is a fine place in many respects, but it is a distance from the university where the men pursue their undergraduate studies (Fordham), an even greater distance from home, and run by priests of New York.

But now, younger men are once again pursuing vocations to the priesthood, and we have experienced an increase – almost a surge – in seminarians of college age. Take a look at that poster inside the front doors and see how young our guys are! They are committing earlier, and staying committed, to being Priests of Jesus Christ, and more of our men ordained are in their mid-twenties now than for decades.

So in order to provide these young men formation that is closer to their homes and families, in the midst of the local church they will call home for the rest of their lives; and in order to allow them to be formed by priests of that Church, whose brothers in service and struggle they will be, Cardinal Wuerl has done this radical and wonderful thing.

They will take their studies at Catholic University. After completing them, they will go on for four or five years of graduate theology and formation at the major seminaries that we have traditionally used: Mount Saint Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Theological College at CUA in DC, and the North American College in Rome.

The building is a former religious house on Taylor Street NE between Archbishop Carroll High School and the Ukrainian seminary. It has been offices for the Archdiocese for fifteen or twenty years, but was originally built as a seminary, so it should be an easy conversion. At this moment, we are awaiting only permits from the District government in order to have everything ready to go come this fall – there’s a prayer intention for you!
Monsignor Smith

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