One of the hazards of being a part-time blogger (in other words, I work at an office for a living) is that you often get scooped on some of the best stories. Of course, that's often good news for the reader, since the person scooping me is frequently a better writer than I am...
Case in point: this story on St. John Vianney, the minor seminary here in St. Paul. I actually read the story in the Strib yesterday morning and was planning to say something about it, but Amy beat me to it, and I'm glad she did because a lot more people read her blog, and SJV is a success story that more people should know about:
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.
The rector, Fr. Bill Baer, credits the seminary's "absolute fidelity to the teachings of the Catholic Church" for the success. 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."
You might recall that SJV, located on the campus of the University of St. Thomas, is also the place where the police were called the evening of Cardinal Ratzinger's election as pope because of complaints that the seminarians were making too much noise celebrating the day!
It's great news, especially considering the reputation St. Paul-Minneapolis has for being a liberal archdiocese. After all, it's the home of the notorious St. Joan of Arc. (On the other hand, it's also the home of St. Agnes, and has an indult Tridentine parish in St. Augustine, so go figure.) I've met Fr. Baer before, and have come away very impressed by him.
I've also met Fr. John Klockeman, the school's spiritual director, who used to be at St. Olaf, the downtown parish where I attend daily Mass. Fr. Klockeman is a young man himself (St. Olaf was his first assignment, and he was only there for a couple of years before being assigned to the seminary), and I always found him both a good confessor and an outstanding witness to the faith. Fr. Klockeman shared several times the difficulty he'd had at different points in his life, and how the only way to overcome these travails is through a total commitment to Jesus and faith in His Church.
Again, it's a very encouraging story, and more people should hear about it.