We are nearing the end of the first week of the Summer Seminary Immersion Program 2016. Last year was the first year for SSIP, and we are thrilled that once again we have been blessed with the presence of several young men who are discerning the possibility that they may be called to enter the seminary after graduating from high school. This year there are 12 SSIP students—an auspicious number!—and while there were more applicants than we were able to have with us, I think the young men who were able to attend are having a great experience so far.
The goal of SSIP is to give rising high school juniors and seniors a sense of what minor seminary might be like, using the resources of the Old College Undergraduate Seminary Program, which is administered by the U.S. Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Fr. Kevin Grove, C.S.C., is teaching a one-credit Theology course on Theology of the Priesthood, which uses St. Augustine’s Confessions, Chesterton’s Fr. Brown Mysteries, and Bishop Sartain’s Strengthen Your Brothers as its primary texts.
In addition to the in-classroom work, the SSIP students have also taken numerous field trips to see Holy Cross priests “in the wild;” going to Keough Hall to see Fr. Pat Reidy, C.S.C. who works as a men’s dorm rector, to Christ the King to see Fr. Steve Lacroix, C.S.C. the pastor of the parish, to the Notre Dame Men’s Basketball locker room to meet Fr. Pete McCormick, C.S.C., who is Director of Campus Ministry and team chaplain, and to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to get a private tour from Fr. Peter Rocca, C.S.C., Rector of the Basilica. In all of these settings, and many more besides, the students see the diversity of ministry in the Congregation of Holy Cross, and the diversity of the priests and brothers who have been called together in to this religious family.
We are also aware that some of the men who come to attend SSIP are already seriously discerning the possibility of entering their own home dioceses or other religious orders, so while our main perspective is of course informed by our experience as Holy Cross religious, we also discuss how the various charisms and ministerial needs of other parts of the Church are nurtured by other formation programs.
Please keep the Summer Seminary Immersion Program in your prayer as we enter into the second and final week, for the students, staff, and current seminarians who are working with them, and for all the men who would like to participate in this or a similar program but who are unable to for any reason. We know that the future of the Church in the U.S. is bright because of the quality and good nature of the young men who are open to answering God’s call.
Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC, is the Associate Director of the Office of Vocations for the U.S. Province of Priests and Brothers. He was ordained in 2013 and currently resides in Dillon Hall, on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.