Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Report from the Seminary Today

Currently I am at seminary in the midwest. Since I am good friends with a Bishop who is on the Board of Trustees here, I have access to both the seminary and the seminarians that the press is not allowed. In fact, if I took out my wallet and flashed my PRESS pass, I am sure that I would be quickly ushered out the door. I may try that later today, when I'm actually leaving anyway, but now on to report my experiences yesterday.

I arrived at the seminary in the early afternoon. There were a number of television trucks parked near the entrance. One local news agency was setting up to do a live remote broadcast. When I came into the front entrance I was stopped, and asked why I had come. I responded to meet with one of the faculty members (an OSV author who I had an appointment with later in the day). She told me to have a seat. I asked if I might visit the chapel (to pray). She said someone would have to accompany me.

Now, I haven't had the experience of "being accompanied" anywhere since I was a child and so I asked why this was the case. She explained that many of the priests and seminarians rooms were right outside the chapel and I would be invading their "privacy." This explanation went on for some time as I raised a number of questions. Finally, a seminarian arrived, who had been summoned somehow (perhaps a secret button, like a bank teller might have?). He was to be my accompanier. I declined his invitation and asked the receptionist if my friend (the bishop) was out of his meeting.

All of a sudden she started apologizing. She didn't know who I was, they had to be careful, they had some incidents (no explanation as to what these were), etc. She rang the bishop, he came down and for the rest of the day I had free reign of the place.

I was impressed. The main chapel had undergone the usual deconstruction but another chapel remained untarnished. In the untouched chapel, their were seminarians at prayer (a fair number), and preparations were being made for Eucharistic Adoration. There were students in cassocks, clerics and jeans. I'm guessing that each vesture represented an idealogy. It struck me later when attending Vespers (evening prayer) that they were evenly divided.

It was just before Vespers that I viewed the whole ensemble. They actually seemed to be the same mix of men you would have seen twenty years earlier. They came in all sizes and shapes, as well as ages. Most were young, though their faces bore more stress than one would expect--no doubt due to the approaching final exams and for some ordination.

No shocks, very quiet atmosphere, prayerful. No overtly effeminate men. I am impressed.

More later...