I am privileged to be the new President-Rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. As Dean of Seminarians last year, I often asked the question, “What does this look like in the parish?” This simple and obvious question can often be overlooked in the busyness of seminary life – but it’s the heart of the matter. We realize that our primary purpose is not only to be a graduate school of theology. We are a seminary. That means forming a man humanly, spiritually, intellectually and pastorally for life and ministry in the parish.
The end goal is the parish because that’s where the people are, the point of encounter for the priest with his people. We have an excellent academic faculty and tradition. But I’d like to focus on some of the things that might not be known about us in the other areas of formation.
First, I am excited to welcome Fr. Paul Hoesing, as our Dean of Seminarians. Fr. Hoesing was the Vocation Director for the Archdiocese of Omaha for 7 years, and is the current President of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors. His position in the NCDVD speaks to the great respect his brother vocation directors hold for him.
In the area of human formation I would especially like to highlight the 25 years of experience and work of Dr. Sue Harvath with our men in theology, and our recent addition of Deacon Charlie Durban in the college. We are one of the few seminaries that have a full-time psychologist on staff to help address the increasing pressures concerning human development for men in our culture.
In the area of spiritual formation we welcome Fr. Mark Kramer, S.J., as our new Director of Spiritual Formation. Fr. Kramer, a native of St. Louis, has an impressive resume which includes parish, high school, college and retreat work. He will lead our team of spiritual directors which includes three other full-time and six adjunct directors.
In the area of Pastoral Formation Fr. Tom Molini, a local pastor, has developed what I believe to be one of the most extensive parish apostolic programs in the country. Our men “go out” as part of their formation because that’s where the people are. In the parish the men will learn about how the everyday messiness of our humanity meets with the supernatural grace and beauty of Jesus and His Church.
There are many more impressive things that I am grateful for at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. But let me leave you with a picture of our newly renovated chapel. As a priest celebrates the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the chapel, he sees, directly above the altar, these words written inside the baldachino: “Imitare quod tractabis et vitam tuam mysterio domincae crucis conforma.” (Imitate what you celebrate and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross.) These words are taken from the Rite of Ordination of a Priest.
Seminarians in the nave see only the first and last Latin words: Imitare Conforma. It is a reminder – to both celebrants and seminarians – of our main purpose at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary: to configure each seminarian to the heart of Jesus Christ. This is first and foremost a work of God. As we work with each man in the different dimensions of his formation, he is reminded at Mass that he will only receive the power to imitate and conform himself to Christ through the power of his Holy Eucharist.
Rev. James Mason