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40th annual Bishop’s Seminary Brunch draws sell-out crowd

News of the Diocese

April 19, 2024

40th  annual Bishop’s Seminary Brunch draws sell-out crowd
40th  annual Bishop’s Seminary Brunch draws sell-out crowd
40th  annual Bishop’s Seminary Brunch draws sell-out crowd
40th  annual Bishop’s Seminary Brunch draws sell-out crowd
40th  annual Bishop’s Seminary Brunch draws sell-out crowd
40th  annual Bishop’s Seminary Brunch draws sell-out crowd
40th  annual Bishop’s Seminary Brunch draws sell-out crowd
40th  annual Bishop’s Seminary Brunch draws sell-out crowd
40th  annual Bishop’s Seminary Brunch draws sell-out crowd
40th  annual Bishop’s Seminary Brunch draws sell-out crowd

The mood was festive as nearly 1,000 people poured into Landerhaven on April 14 for the 40th annual Bishop’s Seminary Brunch.

Bishop Edward Malesic greeted guests near the front door. After that, they mingled before moving into the ballroom for brunch and the program.

Father Andy Turner, president/rector of Borromeo Seminary and Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology, said the brunch provides important support for the individual needs of seminarians. Disbursements from the Rector’s Fund in 2022-2023 supported rising medical costs, unexpected auto repairs, student loan deferments and registration for seminars, retreats and programs attended by the students.

(See photo gallery above.)

“Generous contributions last year allowed us to raise nearly $180,000, which we hope to exceed this year in preparation for the new propaedeutic year of priestly formation,” Father Turner said.

He provided an outline for the propaedeutic year that will begin in August and will impact incoming seminarians. It will be an immersion year for all seminarians that will allow them time to “unplug” as they step out of the prevailing culture so they can critique the culture and learn to listen deeply to the voice of God. Then, Father Turner said, they “will reengage with the culture, embracing what is good and letting go of what is detrimental as they undertake the rest of their seminary formation.”

The experience will be tailored to fit individual students, he said. Those entering Borromeo after high school graduation will spend two years at Borromeo taking general education courses before entering the propaedeutic year so the experience will last three years – two preparatory years and the immersion year. Those with a college degree will spend one immersion year.

Father Turner said during the immersion year, students would audit classes so they “can enjoy learning simply for the sake of learning, without any academic pressure.” At least weekly there will be time for ministry, usually to the poor. There will be about a monthlong “poverty immersion” during which seminarians will spend the month off campus living and working in a ministry to benefit the disadvantaged.

Those in the immersion year would have limited interaction with other seminarians and would participate in some of the larger celebrations such as liturgies for candidacy, institution of acolyte and lector and ordinations. They also could participate in some of the other seminary community events.

Saturdays will be mostly free for seminarians to visit with friends. They also will have typical school-year holiday breaks and a two-week respite before the beginning of the next school year.

Those in the propaedeutic year will live in a special residence with a dedicated staff member, Father Mark Ott. The hope is that the students will conclude the immersion year by walking the Camino of St. Joseph in Spain.

Father Turner said details of the program continue to evolve.

Dave Karpinski, Bishop’s Seminary Brunch chairperson, expressed gratitude for the large brunch crowd and for their support of the seminarians. He said his son spent a few years discerning a possible priestly vocation and formed many strong friendships. Although he did not continue in the seminary, Karpinski said those bonds remain and he continues to be impressed with the men and the work being done in the diocesan seminaries.

“Witnessing God’s boundless grace manifesting in our seminaries today fills me with awe. The fruits of God’s grace are on full display in these men who have boldly answered Jesus’ call to follow him,” Karpinski said. “Their willingness to surrender their lives to him in this period of formation inspires me to deepen my own relationship with Jesus.”

Bishop Malesic also addressed the audience, telling the group, “yesterday and today are days that we gather in hope.” He pointed out the seven men who were ordained to the transitional diaconate the previous day and seminarians from the Diocese of Youngstown who also were in attendance.

The bishop also thanked Father Turner and the seminary community for their efforts in forming the young men for the priesthood and praised plans for the new propaedeutic year, noting there is a holistic approach to formation and a commitment to form lifelong learners extending beyond the walls of the seminary.

The new immersion year will provide a tangible opportunity for seminarians to “have a profound encounter with the face of Christ in the marginalized and downtrodden as they make their journey in discipleship,” he said. Pope Francis said priests should have “the smell of their sheep,” as Jesus did, and this new program will help to do that, he added.

“We are cultivating the seeds of faith that will blossom tomorrow,” the bishop said, adding that this evangelization is the responsibility of everyone. “Seminarians represent the hope of the flock and our responsibility is to provide them with the tools they need to serve. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few, so let’s labor tirelessly together.”

Three seminarians also shared their experiences at Borromeo and Saint Mary seminaries, talking about how it deepened their faith and is helping to shape them for their future vocations.

The seminary choir, directed by Agnieszka Bieniek, performed a few songs for the group, including “Magnificat,” composed by Deacon Michael Garvin. He is scheduled for priestly ordination in May.

Father Eric Garris, diocesan vocation director, also addressed the crowd and offered his thanks to the brunch planning committee. “It takes a lot of planning for an event of this size. I’m not here to ask for your money, but for your sons, grandsons and nephews,” he said, noting it is the work of the entire Church to foster vocations. Jesus started the Church with individual relationships, calling people individually to be his disciples.

“If there is a young man you know of who you think would be a good priest or someone who has expressed an interested in the priesthood, encourage him to come and meet me. We want to support all the good things that God is doing, but we need your support,” Father Garris said.

The event concluded with a blessing from Bishop Malesic and a closing hymn.

As the group filed out of the ballroom, seminarians lined the way accepting donations in large silver bowls. They handed out cards with a QR code that linked to several songs recorded recently by the seminary choir. The free preview of the recording was a gift to brunch attendees as a thank you for their support.

Although the brunch is over, donations still are needed to support seminaries, Click here for more information. Prayerful support is welcome, also. Visit the Vocation Office website to learn more about discerning a vocation.

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