June 1, 2011 // Uncategorized

Upcoming collection assists with education of seminarians

Pentecost Collection for the Education of Seminarians initiates June 12
Download Bishop’s Letter here.
FORT WAYNE — The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has been blessed with an increase in the number of seminarians studying for the priesthood over the past two years.

This spring, there are 21 seminarians, “two of whom will be ordained priests,” said Msgr. Bernard Galic, director of the Office of Vocations for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Msgr. Galic said, “There is plenty of interest” from men who wish to discern the priesthood. “Bishop (Kevin C. Rhoades) has already accepted four (additional seminarians) — so that has us back to 23 (in the fall) — and there are four more in the application process. There is a possibility as many as 27 this fall.

“There is no question that God is blessing our diocese,” Msgr. Galic said. When he first became vocation director he said so few men applied. “It’s really grown and that’s encouraging,” he added.

But with the rejoicing comes a financial burden to the diocesan budget. “I have called this a ‘happy problem,’” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades said in a letter that will be distributed June 12, the solemnity of Pentecost.

He said in the letter, “The funds raised in the Annual Bishop’s Appeal are not sufficient to pay for the education of all our seminarians. The full annual cost for each seminarian, including tuition, room, board, insurance, travel, and a modest stipend for summer work is approximately $49,000.”

Harry Verhiley, the diocesan secretary of Stewardship and Development, noted, “After six to eight years of study, depending on previous education, the total cost invested in each seminarian can range between $294,000 to $392,000.”

Bishop Rhoades said in his letter, “In light of this important need, I have decided to initiate an annual diocesan collection on the solemnity of Pentecost to help fund the education of our seminarians. On this feast, we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church at its very beginnings. The apostles, the first priests of the Church, emerged from behind the locked doors of the upper room to bring the Gospel of Christ to the world. Strengthened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they bore courageous witness to Christ and began their priestly mission. Our seminarians are being formed to continue that holy mission as priests of Jesus Christ.”

Verhiley, who coordinates the Annual Bishop’s Appeal, told Today’s Catholic, “This collection is needed because in recent years, a portion of the Annual Bishop’s Appeal covered the full cost of seminarian expenses. Now, due to the rising costs of education and an increase in the number of seminarians, the funds raised for seminarian education from the Annual Bishop’s Appeal cannot completely cover the costs.”

When Bishop Rhoades instituted this collection for seminarians in Harrisburg, Pa., while he was bishop there, “it was the biggest collection of the year,” a hopeful Msgr. Galic noted, “because people want to support the seminarians.”

Deacon Terrence Coonan Jr., who will be ordained to the Priesthood on Saturday, June 11, said, “These six years of seminary formation have been the best years of my life. They have helped me to know more about myself as a son of God, more about my vocation within God’s plan, and all of the extremely important practices, knowledge and habits of a holy priest. I am very grateful to the diocese for providing this privilege and opportunity in my life in which I will never be able to repeat.”

The Pentecost Collection for the Education of Seminarians will be a special, annual second collection held each year on the weekend of the solemnity of Pentcost.

Verhiley said, “Prayers for our seminarians, and financial assistance to this fund, will come back to us in the form of pastoral, sacramental and spiritual service. Investment in our seminarians is an investment in the life of the Church.”

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