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Welcoming the seminary’s new men

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The Catholic Moment, September 2013

Ah, the dawn of a new school year. By early September, schools have been at the grind for a few weeks; teachers have gotten to know the personality of their student; and students are trying to test new ways of aggravating their teachers! It is as it always has been, I think.

Seminary formation is along the same lines, hopefully without the aggravating of teachers, though. We were blessed to welcome nine new men into formation at the seminary for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati this summer. While it is a little lower than the classes that have entered over the last few years, they represent the Archdiocese of Cincinnati well, and should, after their formation, serve well along side their brother priests.

Our new enrollees are graduates from public, Catholic and home schools. Four have college degrees from various universities, and five are entering college seminary formation.  One comes to us after a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps. As they join the ranks, our total number of seminarians stands at 46 men in formation for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. While this is the highest number of men in seminary that we have had since at least 1990, we still have much work to do to continue to build the culture of vocations.

As these “new men” continue to get settled into the routine of life at the seminary, in the Vocation Office, we start to look for the next group of men to enter in a year’s time. As such, I was asked what unites the men who have entered over the last few years, what are some common elements that we should all be looking for in the young men around us? (And, by extension, the young women discerning religious life, of which I know of three who entered this fall, as well!)

The difficulty is that there is not one common element, besides the desire to grow in the love of the Lord and to share that relationship with the people of God. They come from all walks of life. Some have been very active and involved in parish youth ministry programs and retreat work. For example, one of our new men was a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). One was raised on a farm and comes to the seminary with calloused and hardened hands.

What seems to unite them all, however, is that from an early age, they had a good witness of the practice of the faith at home. More than any other factor, this is what unites them into a new band of brothers ready to lay down their lives as living icons of Christ. By the time they are ordained, they will be well formed to take up the mission of the church to continue to spread the message of Christ.

To have a glimpse into the world of seminary formation, the Vocation Office is proud to announce the publication of a new set of videos to break down the barrier of what happens in the life of the seminary and of our seminarians.  I invite you to stop by our website to take a look : www.cincinnativocations.org/category/video.

Afterwards, please consider offering a prayer a day for these men. They each had many possibilities in this world, but they laid it all down to serve Christ in the radical call of the priesthood. What a privilege and honor it is for me to serve them in such a way.

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Father Schnippel is the archdiocesan vocation director.

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