Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Crossroads Initiative

catechetical resourses for the Catholic ChurchMarcellino D'Ambrosio, Crossroads Initiative RCIA in

the Catholic ChurchMarcellino D'Ambrosio, Crossroads Initiative adult

education in the Catholic ChurchMarcellino D'Ambrosio, Crossroads Initiative

Exploring the Catholic ChurchMarcellino D'Ambrosio, Crossroads Initiative Early

Church Fathers
Crossroads Initiatitve, a ministry of Dr. Marcellino


Heroes & Warriors Welcome at This Seminary


 Heroes & Warriors Welcome

St. John Vianney Seminary


by Katherine Kersten

Reprinted from the Minneapolis Star Tribune --- October 10, 2005


St. John Vianney Seminary - adorationImagine this scene: It's 6 a.m. on a wintry day. More than 100 young men wipe the sleep from their eyes and gather in a dark chapel, heads bowed, for an hour of silent prayer.


An Irish monastery, circa 1450 A.D.? No, it's a typical morning at St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, a four-year college program for men considering the Catholic priesthood.


You'd think the recent bad press about clergy sexual abuse would have slowed the stream of potential priests to a trickle. But SJV, located at the University of St. Thomas, has an entering class of 49 -- the largest in 20 years. In fact, SJV has more college seminarians than any other Catholic seminary in the country. Young men flock here from 24 Catholic dioceses, from Alaska to Kentucky. To become priests, they must continue their studies at a graduate seminary after completing SJV's program.


St. John Vianney Seminary - Father William BaerHas SJV drawn so many young men by loosening its traditional requirements? Quite the opposite.  "We have absolute fidelity to the teachings of the Catholic Church," according to the Rev. William Baer, the seminary's rector-president.


It's in "our approach to the moral life, the way we celebrate mass and our affection for the pope and the Virgin Mary," he said. "Our appeal is that we offer a vision of life the men can't find in the larger culture."


There's no room at SJV for what some call "the beige church" -- the "whatever turns you on" spirituality that became popular in the 1970s and '80s. In Baer's view, the recent clergy abuse scandals had their roots, in part, in the freewheeling seminaries of those years.


"Today's young men won't give their entire lives for a cynical, watered-down life of church work," he says.  "Either the priesthood is essential for the salvation of the world, or they're going to go somewhere else to make a lot more money and have a lot more fun."


The motto for SJV's formation program is "boys to men." That's in part what attracted senior Andrew Liaugminas, from the Archdiocese of Chicago. "You're wandering around in the culture, asking 'What's going to fulfill me?' " he said. "You have no sense there's anything worth fighting for, nothing beyond the pleasures of the day."


Father John Klockerman - Saint John Vianney SeminaryThe Rev. John Klockeman, SJV's spiritual director, understands this hunger. "Men need a heroic life," he said. "Our culture wants to replace it with self-indulgence, to rob them of their call to heroism."  At SJV, young men discern whether the priesthood is for them as they grow in self-knowledge and self-discipline. The model at SJV, says Liaugminas, is "the magnanimous man -- the man with a great soul, who's willing to put up with many hardships to reach his goal."  Liaugminas points to the 12 Apostles, who were willing to go to the death. "We want to be warriors for Christ, who are not afraid to fight for a cause," he said. "This is the stuff of legends, and it resonates deeply in our hearts here."


In addition to philosophy and theology, says Baer, SJV stresses behavior that families used to teach, but often don't today: "Things like be true to your word, apologize when you've done wrong, welcome visitors with hospitality."


The day starts at 6 a.m. with an hour of silent prayer. Mass is next, and then classes at St. Thomas, along with a mandatory two-hour study hall. (More than half the seminarians made the dean's list last year.) The students also pray together at noon and 6 p.m. On Sunday evening they sing the Salve Regina, a Latin prayer, around an icon of the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus. ("That's the coolest part," one seminarian whispered to me.)


SJV's watchword is accountability. "The era of the Lone Ranger priest with a secret life has got to end," says Baer. Seminarians meet twice a week in small groups to encourage and support each other. "They take each other to task for things as small as 'your room is a mess.' We want them to get used to correcting their brothers."


Are seminarians intolerably "holier than thou"?


Saint John Vienney - Seminary"We're normal people, average Joes," responds Kregg Hochhalter, a transfer student from the Archdiocese of Bismarck, N.D. St. Thomas football fans can attest to this. At the Tommies' games, seminarians clad in purple T-shirts lead the crowd in rowdy cheers.  Football co-captain Ben Kessler, an SJV senior named First Team Academic All-American by ESPN the Magazine, was recently featured on Fox Sports Net. Another SJV athlete, Nick Donohue, turned down a chance to become a tennis pro to attend the seminary.


Baer still chuckles about the raucous "half prayer meeting, half pep rally" the seminarians staged after Pope Benedict's election in April 2005. Campus security guards chased them off a roof, so they led an exuberant procession through the campus, as other students enthusiastically cheered them on.


What about celibacy? "Most of the men have had very active dating lives, and they love the thought of marriage and family," says Baer. "But they want to give God first shot with their life."  Liaugminas explains: "If you love something with your whole heart, you want to give yourself fully to that.  It seems daunting when people talk about the prohibition on sex. But I have the chance to be a spiritual father -- part of not one family, but thousands of families."


Saint John Vianney College SeminarySJV has candles, icons and stained-glass windows. At the same time, it has rival basketball teams, loud rock music and buoyant energy.


Baer puts it in perspective: "We American Catholics have an image of an aging and dwindling future clergy.  But the men here see a growing and youthful future as priests. That's due both to our numbers and the dynamic spirit we foster.


"These men believe they're joining not a sinking ship, but a winning team."


Download, print and share!

Click here to download, print and share Heroes & Warriors Welcome at This Seminary!



For more Catholic resources to feed your faith, visit the Crossroads Initiative Homepage.


Win a Free CD - Catholic Online Resources


To sign up for our free weekly e-mail with Dr. D'Ambrosio's commentary on the Sunday readings, liturgical feasts, updates on where Dr. D will be speaking, a chance to WIN a FREE CD and MORE, CLICK HERE!


Plugged In - Youth CaFEGet your Teens Plugged inTo Christ! 

This awesome set is hot off the press and straight from the UK where it is taking British teens by Storm!


Youth CaFE is a fast moving and inspiring resource for teenage Catholics. The course is very flexible and can be used for youth groups, confirmation, schools and study groups.

Each of the 6 sessions contains several powerful elements including a personal witness, scripture dramatization, “Grill the Priest” Q & A, songs and challenge from Fr. Stan Fortuna, hot music and riveting images.


Come check out the trailer on the website and get more information! This set is perfect for LifeTeen, religious ed, and personal use!

Call for more information or order yours TODAY! We are so sure that you will love this for your teens we re offering a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee!


The ENTIRE set is ONLY - $225 (FREE SHIPPING!)


I Believe - The Heart of Catholic Faith

I Believe - The Heart of the Catholic Faith, The Nicence Creed, Catholic FaithThis awesome 4 session program to revitalize your faith and prepare you for the gift of the Holy Spirit!  Great for individuals or families or small groups. The workbook is a treasure of discussion questions, devotions and spiritual exercises that can serve as an easy-to-follow roadmap through our Catholic Faith! I will break you out of stale patterns and enrich both your prayer and your understanding of the central truths of the Catholic faith, empowering you to share that faith with others.


Great Adventure Bible Time Line Catholic Bible Study by Jeff Cavins -- DVD
 Jeff Cavins, Great Adventure Time Line Catholic Bible Study The Bible Timeline provides a clear understanding of the underlying Scriptural narrative, which is essential to all Bible reading and study. The 24-part Bible Timeline Bible Study dives deep into the Biblical story. A combination of individual reading and study, group discussion, and lecture commentary guides participants as they read through the 14 narrative books of The Bible Timeline and discover the meaning of each in light of the whole.

Home | Site Map | Links | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Free Newsletter | Win a CD | Calender | Donate Now!
A ministry of Crossroads Productions, Inc. + PO Box 271227 + Flower Mound, TX 75027 + 1.800.803.0118 + a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.