Last week, I reflected upon the fulfillment of God the Father's promise to send us shepherds after His own heart (Jer 3:15). Our Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son Incarnate, fulfilled the promise at the Last Supper, when he consecrated the Apostles to celebrate the Holy Eucharist in His own person. The celebration of the Holy Eucharist is the highest and greatest service which flows from their consecration. Closely connected to it is their service as authentic teachers of the faith and guardians of the unity of the fold.
I also reflected upon the men from the Archdiocese of Saint Louis who are responding to the call to be shepherds of the flock, after the Heart of Jesus, by entering the seminary. As I noted, the greater part of our seminarians are studying at our Archdiocesan seminary, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.
I conclude my reflection today by commenting on the other Bishops and superiors of religious communities who send seminarians to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and on the importance of having an Archdiocesan seminary.
The Seminarians at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary
There are 113 seminarians receiving priestly formation at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary; 83 are enrolled in Kenrick School of Theology, and 30 are enrolled in Cardinal Glennon College Seminary. As I noted last week, 33 of the men in the School of Theology and 25 of the men in the College Seminary are studying for the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. Who are the other seminarians?
Sixteen other dioceses send seminarians to prepare for priestly ordination at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. They are the Archdioceses of Kansas City in Kansas, Oklahoma City, and Omaha; and the Dioceses of Belleville, Belize City-Belmopan, Bismarck, Colorado Springs, Des Moines, Jefferson City, Kansas City-Saint Joseph, Memphis, Peoria, Rockford, Springfield in Illinois, Springfield-Cape Girardeau and Wichita. Some dioceses have only one seminarian studying at our seminary; others have three or four or five. The Dioceses of Kansas City-Saint Joseph and Wichita, and the Archdiocese of Omaha each have 7 seminarians at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.
In addition, the Intercessors of the Lamb, a public association of the faithful headquartered in the Archdiocese of Omaha, whose members lead a consecrated religious life, has two members receiving priestly formation at our seminary. In the past, the Sons of Our Mother of Peace, a religious community of men, which has its motherhouse in Marionville, Missouri, has sent its members to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. At the present, the community has no members in priestly formation at our seminary.
The Church Is Universal
The number of seminarians coming from a variety of dioceses gives our seminarians and all of the seminarians a lived experience of the universality of the Church. The seminarians enrich one another with the special gifts of Catholic faith and practice, which they bring to the seminary from their respective dioceses or religious communities. On Alumni Day at the Seminary, I am always pleased to witness the lasting friendships between our priests and priests from other dioceses and religious communities who have studied with them at Cardinal Glennon College Seminary or Kenrick School of Theology.
I make special mention of the longstanding relationship of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis with the missionary Diocese of Belize City-Belmopan. The seminarians from the country of Belize in Central America have brought a special richness to the whole seminary community, especially regarding the Church's essentially missionary nature.
From what our seminarians tell me in my regular visits with them and from what I have observed at the Seminary, we are truly blessed that such a good number of men from other dioceses and religious communities are sent to our seminary by their bishops or superiors to prepare for priestly ordination. Clearly, their presence also represents a sacred trust. For me, as Archbishop, and for the seminary faculty, the seminarians from outside the Archdiocese are received and educated as our own.
The Great Blessing of an Archdiocesan Seminary
The Church has understood that the best possible place for a man to be prepared for the priesthood is the place in which he will one day serve. For that reason, in the reform after the Council of Trent in the 16th century, every diocese was urged to have its own seminary. It is not possible for every diocese to do so, as was the case with my home diocese. Also, it is good, when possible, to have a few seminarians benefit from the Basselin Scholarship in philosophy at The Catholic University of America or from theological studies undertaken in Rome.
Studying in their own diocesan seminary, seminarians are inspired by frequent contact and communication with the very faithful whom they hope to serve one day. At the same time, the faithful come to know them and participate, in a certain way, in their priestly formation, especially through the program of pastoral formation which entails the seminarians giving some hours every week to service in our parishes, Catholic schools or other Catholic institutions. Our seminarians appreciate greatly every opportunity which they have to visit and serve our parishes. They look forward to giving talks in the parishes during Advent to promote the support of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in the whole Archdiocese.
Studying in their own diocese, seminarians also have more possibilities to get to know the priests whom they, one day, hope to join in the priestly ministry. In this way, the unity of priests is greatly fostered. The Archdiocese of Saint Louis is noted for the unity which is exists among its priests. The fraternal unity and care of the priests of the Archdiocese has made a particularly strong impression upon me from the time I began my service as Archbishop. The sharing of a common seminary experience at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary has a lot to do with the fact that our priests enjoy working together in service of the faithful of the Archdiocese and care so much for each other.
I hope that what I have written has helped you to understand more how God the Father continues to keep His promise of giving us shepherds after His own heart. I hope also that it inspires you to pray more fervently for our seminarians and all of the seminarians who are preparing for priestly ordination at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.
Finally, I ask you to pray for seminary faculty and for me as we strive to make our seminary the best possible place of formation of future priests. As the number of our seminarians and the seminarians from other dioceses and religious communities continues to grow, we also must provide additional and better facilities for Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. I ask your prayers and support as we plan carefully for the further development of our seminary facilities.