Sunday, September 24, 2006

College seminarians "a fraternity of faith, dwindling but resolute."

Today's New York Times has an article profiling four diocesan seminarians at the Cathedral Seminary Residence of the Immaculate Conception in Queens. At a time when most aspirants to the priesthood begin seminary studies after finishing college - years afterward, in many cases - these college-age men have chosen the less-traveled road of the undergraduate seminary. Here's some of what the Times has to say about them:
When Emmanuel Ko broke the news to his girlfriend that he had decided to become a priest, he clutched a rosary in his right pocket for resolve as she wept. "It's not like I didn't like her anymore," he said. "I'm doing this because I love him more."

Mr. Ko, 22, is one of four young men from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn who decided to take the first step toward priesthood this fall, enrolling at the Cathedral Seminary Residence of the Immaculate Conception in Douglaston, Queens.
Decisions like his are increasingly rare, especially now that the priesthood, hit with a series of sex scandals, has become suspect in many people's eyes. There were fewer than 1,300 college-level seminarians in the country last year, down from more than 13,000 three decades ago, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

The seminary in Douglaston, which serves both the Brooklyn and Rockville Centre dioceses, was once a bustling place, a fully functioning college with faculty and several hundred students.

Today, just 25 seminarians live there. They occupy a handful of pews in the school's cavernous chapel. The men take most of their classes now at nearby St. John's University, returning to the seminary campus for the other aspects of spiritual and character development that make up the continuing process known in the Catholic Church as "discernment."

"They're exploring their call," said Bishop Octavio Cisneros, the
seminary's rector. "That's what we offer, the opportunity to explore that."
To read more, click here. Despite light touches of God or the Girl-style sensationalism, the Times article does a good job describing the different paths that led its subjects to the seminary and revealing some of their hopes and struggles. Though the article is far from perfect, it offers a fairly positive look at seminary life and may lead some readers to take the idea of a priestly or religious vocation a little more seriously. The topic of vocations gets very little attention from the secular media, making today's piece in the New York Times something of an unexpected blessing - a small blessing, perhaps, but a blessing all the same. I commend the article to your attention and, as always, I ask for your continued prayers for vocations. AMDG.


At 9/25/2006 9:42 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks for bringing our attention to this article. I think that positive affirming press coverage of priesthood and religious life is so important as is encouragement for vocations at all stages of life's journey. :)


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