If you are actively discerning a vocation to the Priesthood, Diaconate, Consecrated Life, or Marriage and you are looking for information to help in your discernment, BE SURE TO CHECK the section at the bottom of the right sidebar for the "labels" on all posts. By clicking on one of these labels it will take you to a page with all posts containing that subject. You will also find many links for suggested reading near the bottom of the right sidebar. Best wishes and be assured of my daily prayers for your discernment.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Archbishop Burke: Seminary the Heart of the Diocese

"I serve the whole archdiocese best by providing worthy priests to serve in the parishes as spiritual leaders. So it is right at the top of my responsibilities, and I dedicate myself to it." Archbishop Burke
By Barbara Watkins
Catholic News Service

ST. LOUIS (CNS) - Archbishop Raymond L. Burke has called Kenrick-Glennon Seminary "the heart of the life of the Archdiocese of St. Louis."

"That's very true," Archbishop Burke told the St. Louis Review, the archdiocesan newspaper. "That's simply because the seminary is the place in which I'm providing the priests for the parishes. I serve the whole archdiocese best by providing worthy priests to serve in the parishes as spiritual leaders. So it is right at the top of my responsibilities, and I dedicate myself to it."

Seminarians frequently refer to the archbishop as fatherly and supportive, and that support is one reason enrollment at the seminary is up almost 50 percent over last year, with 111 men studying at the archdiocesan seminary in the St. Louis suburb of Shrewsbury.

Deacons Noah Waldman, Edward Nemeth and Michael Houser, who are fourth-year theology students at Kenrick School of Theology, all spoke of the archbishop's strong and visible support.

Deacon Houser said, "By his actions and his concern, Archbishop Burke has been a great force in influencing young men who are discerning (whether) to come to the seminary."

"Knowing the archbishop is around, and that he genuinely cares, and that any of us can get ahold of him when we need him is a great comfort," said Deacon Nemeth.

Fifty-six of the current seminarians are preparing to serve in the St. Louis Archdiocese. Other dioceses without seminaries frequently send men to St. Louis to prepare for the priesthood.

In May, 14 seminarians are expected to be ordained priests. Nine of them -- including Deacons Waldman, Nemeth and Houser -- are to be ordained priests for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, making it the largest ordination class for the archdiocese in 20 years.

Msgr. Ted Wojcicki, president-rector of Kenrick Glennon Seminary, said the archbishop's strong support has a great impact on the seminary.

"His support adds to the confidence of the seminarians," he said. "And it helps people value priestly vocations even more, even the laity, because he's so public in his support.

"I keep a photo on my door of Archbishop Burke's first day in St. Louis -- Dec. 2, 2003," Msgr Wojcicki added. "The seminary was the first place he came after the pastoral center. I think that shows from Day One the importance he placed on it."

The archbishop said he views himself as the seminarians' "spiritual father." His own fatherly support of them -- which includes regular visits and one-on-one walks with them around the seminary grounds or in a nearby park -- is modeled after his own experiences with his parents and priests he knew as a boy in rural Wisconsin.

"The way my own father and the priests I knew growing up interacted with us children in a particular situation gave me a good example," he said. "They were encouraging and gave good counsel when you went to them with questions."
If the seminarians have questions about their vocation or other matters, they discuss them with the priests at the seminary and often with the archbishop.

"The conversations we have on our walks are substantial," Archbishop Burke said. "So the men will tell me if they are having some serious doubts or some particular challenge or something that is discouraging them. We talk about those things, and I try to offer them whatever wisdom I have."

He added, "A vocation is a call from God. I don't make vocations. I don't call people to the priesthood. God does. I have the responsibility to discern whether the call really is of God, and then to call the seminarian to ordination."

No comments: