Seminaries - places to search for the seed of God's calling
By Father David Veit
"He's gone off to the seminary because he's decided to be a priest... ." Many seminarians have heard that said of them over the years. However, that's not exactly the purpose of a seminary. A seminary is a place where the "seed" of God's call can sprout and blossom. It is a place for a man to grow as a faithful Catholic so he can hear and follow God's call.
One does not go to a seminary, per se, because he has decided to be a priest. Rather, one goes to the seminary so that, by God's grace, the formation staff, the bishop, and others involved in the formation process can help him to learn whether God is calling him to Priesthood.
All seminarians receive formation in academic, character, social, emotional and spiritual development. Seminaries can be found at the high school, college, and graduate school levels. Currently the Jefferson City diocese sends seminarians to the following five seminaries:
Conception Seminary College, Conception, Mo.: Established in 1886 in the quiet farmland of northwestern Missouri, the Benedictine priests and brothers of Conception Abbey operate Conception Seminary College as a place for men to attend college or complete pre-theology studies in preparation for graduate-level theology. The purpose of both college and pre-theology is to lay the foundation for theological studies for the formation of priests. A man is formed and educated in the liberal arts, obtaining a bachelor's degree in philosophy. Marked by its rural setting, it is especially conducive to reflection and listening to what God's call is for any given man.
Sacred Heart School of Theology, Hales Corners, Wis.: Founded as Sacred Heart Monastery in 1932 by the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. In 1972, it became Sacred Heart School of Theology, specializing in the formation of older candidates for priestly discernment and formation. Most men attending Sacred Heart already have college degrees, and those who do not, also obtain their college degree in a collaborative program with Cardinal Stritch University, followed by graduate-level studies in theology for a master of divinity degree and/or a master of arts degree in theology.
Kenrick School of Theology, St. Louis, Mo.: Founded in 1893, this is where most of our seminarians go for graduate theological studies and formation for priestly service. Now run by the Archdiocese of St. Louis, this is the closest school of theology to our diocese, affording students in their last year as a deacon the opportunity to serve on the weekends during the academic year in parishes in our own diocese. Students generally earn both a master in divinity degree and a master of arts degree in theology.
Theological College, Washington, D.C.: Functioning as an independent national seminary since 1924, it became Theological College in 1940 with seminarians studying at the School of Theology at The Catholic University of America (CUA). Just across the street from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and CUA, it affords an opportunity for more varied areas of theological study. Our seminarians generally obtain a bachelor of sacred theology (STB) degree and a master of divinity degree.
The Pontifical North American College, Rome, Italy: Founded in 1859, this graduate-level seminary provides seminarians an opportunity to study abroad in the "Eternal City." They are afforded unique opportunities in the heart of Latin-Rite Catholicism to listen to God's call in their life, and receive training and preparation for ministerial priesthood. All students earn at least a bachelor of sacred theology degree, and sometimes higher pontifical degrees.