Seminarian Summers

The CNS blog has two posts and links to seminarians spending summers in parishes. Dioceses like Phoenix and St Petersburg are typical. I’ve enjoyed many friendships and colleagues from twenty years in parish ministry. But it got me wondering.

Why just summers? A few seminarians I know had an entire year to serve a parish–it was part of their formation. And that got me wondering a bit more.

Maybe the seminary academic year is bass ackward.

It’s relatively easy to be a parish minister in the summer. Sure, you spend lots of time planning, and you get the occasional crush of misfortune, like five funerals in four days followed up with a wedding or two thrown in with a weekend of Masses.

But think about it, especially you seminary rectors out there …

Why do we train seminarians during a secular academic year? Why wouldn’t they attend classes May through November, and get an annual parish assignment for Advent through Pentecost? Large dioceses with universities could enroll seminarians part-time in a class or two during the parish assignments. Perhaps to study business administration or music or other electives useful to priest formation. The parishes would get help when they need it the most. Children and teens would interact with seminarians when they are the most busy in parish life. And the students would see how parishes really function, not when liturgy and other activities get minimal for the summer months.

What do the lay people think?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Seminarian Summers

  1. thadeus says:

    Sorry. Posted this comment on another post (8/7) accidentally. Meant to be here…

    I like the idea! I have often wondered about the reasons for the cycles we choose. Having summers off of school makes sense when you need to help out on the farm, or the school doesn’t have air conditioning. Not so much today. In the middle of summer most places in the U.S., people like to stay inside out of the heat.

    I especially like the idea of basing cycles on the liturgical year and have been trying to re-align my own thinking/calendar to Advent as the start of the year.

    It is an innovative idea you have, I hope that you are able to bring it to fruition.

    Cheers!

  2. Randolph Nichols says:

    Having worked in the past for Protestant congregations with a tradition of year-long seminarian interns, I’ve learned two things. One, it is incredible how they grow as public speakers. Unlike their Catholic conterparts, these seminarians get to give Sunday sermons periodically throughout the year. Their transformation, from being anxious and unfocused to self-assured and polished, never ceased to amaze me. Secondly, it was not unusual at the end of the year to learn that a seminarian had changed his or her mind regarding ordination. After encountering the difficulties of genuine parish life,their idealism began to wane. I’m sure Catholic seminaries have the wherewithal to weed out those who eventually have a change of heart, but it was conforting to know the intern experience helped with that clarification.

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