…The seminarians whom I serve, as a professor of philosophy at St. Patrick’s Seminary and University in Menlo Park, California, are quite similar to Catholic undergraduates. They are men with a wide array of personalities and backgrounds. Seminarians are not produced from a mold, and they are each unique individuals. Like their fellow Catholics attending larger universities, these seminarians do not wield the faith like a baseball bat. They do not look to smash over the head anyone who dares to ask questions or even express doubts. Our seminarians wish eagerly to share the Gospel and the freedom they themselves have found in Christ with men and women in our current culture.
The only significant, but obvious, difference between our seminarians and the average Catholic undergraduate is that our seminarians have felt a stirring in their hearts from God the Father to follow him in a more radical way. These men simply wish to follow the Shepherd’s voice, and they have heard him asking them to consider giving their lives totally and completely. They are good men, committed to Christ and the truths of the faith, and eager to hand it on to others.
In recent months seminaries have come under significant scrutiny due to reports of heterodox or biased faculty, sexual abuse, and lack of transparency. For instance, there has been frustration over the failure of approximately half of US seminaries to participate the recent joint study, conducted by the University of Notre Dame and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, titled “Sexual Harassment and Catholic Seminary Culture”. Many worry that this lack of cooperation signals that seminaries have not truly committed to responding to the crisis of sexual abuse in the Church.
Once again, I cannot speak for other seminaries, but my own seminary of St. Patrick’s did in fact participate in this study and enthusiastically supports efforts to prevent abuse. The seminary is deeply committed to creating a culture that respects all members of the community. Readers can read the seminary’s Safe Environment statement. Furthermore, the faculty and staff here at St. Patrick’s are, like our seminarians, men and women of deep faith simply following God’s call. Following the leadership of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, we view our work as a calling from God to help form good and holy priests for the Church.
Like our seminarians, we do not wish to push a particular agenda or to promote a false image of the Church. We simply wish to convey to these men the truth of the Catholic intellectual tradition and thereby form these men, not to be again scholars or great fundraisers, but shepherds capable of leading their flocks. I consider this vocation, and I am certain my colleagues would agree, to be the joy of a lifetime.
What then can you do? I do not wish to downplay the failings of Catholic leaders in the past nor hide the reality that much work still lies before us. I simply offer assurance that there is hope. But we need your help. First, please pray for our seminarians and priests. The one thing Satan hates most is a faithful priest filled with joy, and he does whatever he can to pull down our priests and seminarians….
The above comes from a Jan. 30 story by John Macias in Catholic World Report.