Educating Future Priests

Educating Future PriestsIn Fall 2010, Saint Meinrad's seminary program enrolled 136 seminarians-the most since 1985. The increase is a continuation of a trend the School has enjoyed over the past several years.

"When I entered the seminary, we had the largest enrollment class in the past 10 years," says Mauricio Carrasco, a seminarian studying for the Diocese of Little Rock, AR. "I've only seen class sizes increase during my four years here.

"My own class went from 12 students in philosophy to 35 students in first theology. This year, we're almost to capacity. Saint Meinrad is growing; there's no doubt about that, and the community is a healthy one."

At Saint Meinrad, seminarians like Mauricio receive a well-rounded education based on four pillars of formation: academic, spiritual, human and pastoral. "As our president-rector says, 'Everything we learn here should in some way allow us to help people come closer to Christ,'" says Mauricio. "I just love that vision and mentality."

Integrating these aspects of formation nourishes the student and assists him in discerning a call to priesthood, as well as prepares him for the realities of today's Catholic parish.

"The pastoral aspect is very relevant because of the ministry work we do," adds Mauricio. "My pastoral experiences of teaching young adults, visiting patients in the hospital and serving the community around me have emphasized this and brought focus to all my preparation for the priesthood."

As enrollment continues to rise, Saint Meinrad is taking steps to solidify its already strong program of formation. It's also meeting the challenges of growth with the renovation of Newman Hall and St. Bede Hall on the Saint Meinrad campus. The renovations will allow the Seminary to offer the best possible experience for seminarians, as well as open the door for new growth and initiatives to meet the needs of the Catholic Church.

"I'm impressed by the strong spirit of renewal and growth at Saint Meinrad," says Mauricio. "I've seen constant building renovations, including our residence halls. I've witnessed the implementation of an English as a Second Language Program for international students. I've seen diversity grow in the seminary, giving me the opportunity to meet students from India, South Korea, the Bahamas and all over Africa."

Finding room for growth during renovations has had its challenges, but the challenge is a welcome one. Mauricio says that, at times, it's been difficult to find rooms large enough for classes, but the seminary has always found ways to ensure that students have all the resources they need.

Some classes and meeting rooms have had to be moved. However, several renovated spaces are already completed, including a new kitchen/dining area and laundry facilities for students. "The seminary has done a good job of adjusting to the growth, and all the changes have been timely," adds Mauricio.

Looking back on his experience and formation, he concludes, "My time at Saint Meinrad has allowed me to become a better man, a better Christian and, God willing, a good priest someday."