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Ten new seminarians point to Church's hopeful future Print
Guest column
Thursday, Sep. 15, 2011 -- 12:00 AM

As the fall season rolls in and many students are headed back to school, the seminarians for the diocese are all heading back to school to continue with their seminary formation after a much deserved summer break.

Guest Column

Starting this fall, we will have seminarians in seminaries in Detroit, Mich.; Denver, Colo.; Washington, D.C.; Winona and St. Paul, Minn.; Seward,

Neb.; South Orange, N.J.; and Rome, Italy. Their years of seminary formation range from freshmen in college to the final year of theology.

We ordained two men to the priesthood this summer and have one transitional diaconate ordination. This October, another one of our seminarians will be ordained to the transitional diaconate in Rome. Those two deacons will make up the priesthood ordination class of 2012.

Diverse group

This year, we were blessed with 10 new seminarians that joined our ranks. Their stories are published in this edition of the Catholic Herald. They came from as far as South Korea and as close as parishes around downtown Madison.

Their experiences in life are also as rich and diverse as their personalities. We have freshmen college candidates, transferees from secular college to the seminary, graduates from the 2011 class at UW- Madison, a former Anglican minister, and a recent graduate making the transition from a regular job to seminary studies.

What this tells us is that the Lord continues to invite qualified men of different ages and different walks of life. More encouraging is that the numbers of younger men who are joining the seminary are on the rise. Many are now discerning very early in life to join the seminary and are content with their decision.

Most remarkable is that these young men are also beginning to be recruiters themselves. I have seen them reach out to their friends whom they think may have a vocation to seriously consider going to the seminary. They are willing to share their vocation stories with their peers as they discover each day that our one mission is better than a thousand options.

These are all positive trends that point to a very hopeful future for the Church. We are also blessed with a young woman who is joining the Dominican Sisters of Nashville. Her story will be featured in our January vocations supplement.

Supporting vocations

This past summer, our diocesan seminarians spoke in various parishes around the diocese at weekend Masses. The goal was to allow them the opportunity to introduce themselves to people around the diocese and tell their vocation stories. It was also geared toward promoting vocations and reminding us that the mission is not yet complete.

With the increase in our numbers also comes an increase in costs of training these men. This is a good problem to have considering how we have been blessed in the last seven years with increase in numbers. The St. Joseph Fund is a special fund that is dedicated to training of seminarians. This fund augments the support we get from the diocesan Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA).

Please remember the St. Joseph Fund in your financial plans. If you need more information on how to contribute to the St. Joseph Fund to help us meet our commitments to training quality men to the priesthood, please call the Office of Stewardship and Development or the Office of Vocations at 608-821-3000 and we will be happy to answer your questions.

Continue to pray

Looking ahead, we are still counting on you to continue to pray for an increase in vocations. Many of the parishes are doing different things to help bring awareness to this venture. Nothing equals the power of prayer, especially Eucharistic Adoration for vocations. Please continue your good work through prayer, vocations events, and more importantly, through invitation.

The Office of Vocations is open to assisting you in whatever way possible in meeting this goal. I continue to encourage you to refer potential candidates to us. The new seminarian posters and prayer cards will be available to parishes and vocation groups in October.

Thank you very much for all you do to support vocations in our diocese. Together let us continue to pray and invite these potential candidates.

Fr. Paul Ugo Arinze is the director of vocations for the Diocese of Madison.