‘Why is our son in the seminary?’

‘Why is our son in the seminary?’ October 7, 2019
John Paul II Seminary / DC Vocations Facebook page

A few weeks back, you’ll remember, I posted an essay from America in which a Catholic mother asked, “How can I trust my son will be safe in the seminary?” 

Now, the parents of a seminarian from Maryland have written a response, published last week in Baltimore’s Catholic Review:

Stephen Kirby, our middle son, has been discerning the priesthood since seventh grade, and recently he endured a barrage of tests and interviews and was admitted into the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s college seminary program…

…With last summer’s horrific revelations, we’re of course struggling to trust. Quo Veritas? We wait vainly for public statements of remorse and contrition from the McCarrick and Maciel inner circles, and upper Vatican echelons. There’s nothing like enduring thoughtless remarks at summer barbecues, such as, “Priests are all pedophiles!” The response now trips off my tongue effortlessly: “Uhhh, why don’t you go over there and tell that to our son’s face?”

We’ve attended meetings with the archdiocese, seminary rectors and those between parish clergy and parishioners. We’ve written to archbishops, signed petitions and prayed – angrily and tearfully. And still, fresh nauseating betrayals are revealed almost weekly.

Jesus promised the gates of Hell would not prevail. Can we entrust the Church with our son(s)? Are we naïve and gullible parents? Why does our son remain, and why did he see his 15-year-old brother in July at Baltimore’s “Quo Vadis” vocational discernment camp?

He’s an adult. We (imperfectly) raised him in the faith in a great parish serving with (imperfect) amazing parishioners. He’s encountered many priests, deacons, religious sisters and visiting seminarians, sinners all. He’s endured disappointments, sorrows, joys and ordinariness of family life and a post-Christian culture. He knows Christ promises joy and suffering in ALL vocations. He knows what grooming looks like, and he knows he can call us or older siblings if he encounters it. Yes, he’s young, but so are those new Army recruits, highway construction apprentices and college freshman. Do we cushion him from EVERYTHING?

He’s in a fantastic seminary: St. John Paul II Seminary in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. is fantastic.  Every day, more than 50 college seminarians there attend Mass, pray the Liturgy of the Hours and commit to eucharistic adoration. They have regular confession, spiritual direction and attend Catholic University as philosophy students. They serve “in-house” (raking leaves, dish washing) and out (soup kitchens, schools, the Missionaries of Charity).  They give up all social media in sophomore year. Their rectors and spiritual directors form them – with their consent! – to be joyful, good and humble men seeking holiness in whatever becomes their vocation. Our son’s “brothers” have great senses of humor and enjoy sports, music and hobbies. Will they all sin? Yes. Might some of them fall terribly? Yes.

He wants to be part of the solution. The Holy Spirit and Blessed Mother are cleaning house. Aren’t young people now discerning in seminaries, convents and monasteries part of her plan?

There’s more. Read it all — and pass it on.


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