Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More Seminarians Than One Stage Can Hold

From the upcoming edition of The Catholic Key:

40-year peak in seminary enrollment celebrated at S.O.S. dinner

By Jack Smith
Catholic Key Editor

Abbot Gregory Polan of Conception Abbey led nearly 700 voices in a round of “Holy God We Praise Thy Name” at the Downtown Marriot January 30. “We bless and we thank you Lord for countless blessings,” Abbot Polan prayed as he opened the annual S.O.S. - “Support Our Seminarians” dinner and auction in support of men studying for the priesthood from both sides of State Line Road and for Conception Seminary College.

As he has every year, KMBC-TV anchor Larry Moore served as master of ceremonies at the event which was the brainchild of Moore and his wife Ruth. Recalling the humble beginnings of the effort, Moore said in 1994 there was only one seminarian from the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph. “Things got even worse the next year,” Moore said, when there were none.

This semester, Conception Seminary College has 110 men enrolled – a 40 year record according to Conception Seminary Rector Father Samuel Russell, OSB. Father Russell shared the great news that 26 men are currently in formation for Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph and 21 are studying for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. Not all are studying at Conception, so the great numbers there indicate an increase in vocations from many dioceses.

Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn was celebrating the loss of seminarians that night though. “In June we lost Doug Langner,” Bishop Finn said, “to priestly ordination. And in December we lost Angelo Bartulica to ordination.

“As God is good, we look forward to losing another two seminarians in May,” Bishop Finn said. “And the following year, if all goes according top the plan that we would pray for and hope, we’re going to lose another four seminarians to priesthood.”

Bishop Finn told the crowd, “We have to replace these men . . . This is a dilemma we’ve prayed for and worked for.” Bishop Finn thanked all those who work to support the formation of men to the priesthood and urged the audience to pray and “do everything you can to encourage your sons, your grandsons to listen carefully to the call of Almighty God.”

Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann said as a bishop, he receives a lot of “interesting” mail. But the mail “that brings the most joy” to his heart is from parishioners who take the time to relay “the difference a priest is making in their lives.” A letter that particularly touched him recently was from a woman he remembered from a youth group in his first parish. She wrote, “If there is a debt that we can never repay, it is the priesthood that serves us so faithfully and brings us our greatest gifts in the sacraments.”

Archbishop Naumann thanked God “for young men today that are open to that call to the priesthood,” and thanked all present for supporting them.

Larry Moore also thanked all those who help to make S.O.S. a success, in particular, Mike and Marsha Keenan who served as co-chairs of the event for the second time in a row this year.

Preliminary reports show $68,000 was raised this year from the auction and marketplace and $98,000 from ticket sales.

(pictured above: More seminarians than one stage could hold. One hundred ten seminarians from Conception Seminary College climbed to the stage for a round of applause at the annual Support Our Seminarians dinner Jan. 30. Most are not pictured because of the stage’s small size.)