Thursday, November 12, 2009

Three dioceses, three seminaries, one priesthood

Bishop Murphy's column in this week's Long Island Catholic discusses the possible merger of the 2 seminaries in our area: Immaculate Conception in Huntington and St. Joseph in Dunwoodie. He advises that the apostolic visitation of diocesan seminaries that occurred about 5 years ago (following the priest sex scandals) suggested that there were too many major seminaries. This is a function of the steep decline in vocations that occurred since the 1960's. Although people continue to deny reality, the Church in America was at its height up until the 1950's and it has been in decline in many ways since then. Seminaries back then were full and actually had to turn men away, while today the huge buildings are too big for the number of seminarians. Dioceses have to spend large amounts of money on maintaining buildings meant to house hundreds of men while only a fraction of that number reside in them. So it makes sense to try to figure out a more efficient way of doing things. Bishop Murphy makes clear in his article that merging the 2 seminaries is only one option out of many that are being considered. Bishop Murphy, Bishop DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Archbishop Timothy Dolan are working to try to figure out how to have the two major seminaries and the College Seminary in Douglaston collaborate in forming priests for the 3 dioceses. I hope that whatever is done, it will benefit seminarians and young men discerning a vocation. I think an actual merger of the 2 major seminaries could work well and help make better use of the vast facilities. The formation of deacons and lay people that is done at seminaries would also have to be considered.

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