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Sulpician superior caps seminary’s centennial celebrations

September 03, 2015 | posted by

Sulpician superior caps seminary’s centennial celebrations

By J. Michael Parker | For Today’s Catholic

The Paris-based leader of the Society of St. Sulpice offered five biblical models for priestly life at Assumption Seminary’s Centennial Gala, one of the last major events of Assumption’s year-long centennial celebration.

Father Ronald D. Witherup, PSS, STD, PhD, general superior of the Sulpician Fathers, was the keynote speaker at the gala. Assumption Seminary has sponsored special centennial events each month during the past year highlighting the institution’s critical role in San Antonio’s Catholic community for the past century.

Dr. Ramon Figueroa, chairman of the Seminary’s board of trustees, presented the 2015 Leadership in Faith and Service Award to all the priests, both religious and diocesan, of the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Father Martin Leopold accepted the honor on behalf of his brother priests.

“You are all leaders in faith and service,” Dr. Figueroa told them. “You are wonderful role models for the seminarians who study and are formed at Assumption Seminary. You encounter the people of God in times of celebration and crisis. You break open the world of God by preaching, teaching and counseling. You share the mercy, forgiveness and love of God with both saints and sinners, and you realize that you yourselves are still being formed by the people you serve. You speak out like prophets at crucial times, and you celebrate the sacraments of the Church day after day with fidelity and care.”

Dr. Figueroa said that the witness of their faithful discipleship, dedication to priestly life and ministry, and generosity in service to people “are an invaluable inspiration to those preparing for the priesthood.”

Father Witherup began his address by commenting on how fortunate the San Antonio Catholic community is. “I hope you realize what a magnificent place you live in, what a great resource for Catholic evangelization you have in this great Archdiocese of San Antonio! I was struck immediately, not only by the whole cultural context but the liveliness of the faith here in South Texas and the rich resources for Catholic evangelization you have.” He cited not only the seminary but Oblate School of Theology, the Mexican American Catholic College and the city’s three Catholic universities. “The support for all these institutions provides a great opportunity to celebrate our Catholic faith,” the priest asserted, adding, “I am glad that the U.S. Province of Sulpicians remains an active presence here.”

Sulpicians have been on the formation staff at Assumption since 1996, when Father John Kemper, PSS, the present provincial of the United States Province, arrived. Their collaborative relationship with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate dates back to 1807 when the Sulpician seminary in Paris began forming young Eugene de Mazenod, who founded the Oblates in 1816. He was canonized in 1995.

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS, vacationing with his relatives in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, sent a message, read to the audience by Father Larry Christian, former rector of Assumption Seminary, currently vicar general of the archdiocese and pastor of St. Francis of Assisi.

Archbishop Gustavo described the seminary as “the heart of our archdiocese,” observing that not only are priests for the future formed there, but “the seminary opens its doors to help our deacons in formation, hosts catechisms and parish leaders, and provides our parishes with interactions with seminarians from our archdiocese and beyond.”

He went on to assert, “We are blessed abundantly by our seminary, and in this centennial year of St. John’s/Assumption Seminary, I would like to express my profound gratitude to all of you who support the heart of our archdiocese. My prayers are with you as you celebrate this evening. Please always keep Assumption Seminary in your prayers. Through the intercession of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Anthony, may we always stand in prayerful solidarity, supporting Assumption’s mission and the foundation of the men formed there for the good of the church.”

Father Christian said the centennial is a very special occasion, noting that St. John’s Seminary was founded by Bishop John Shaw in 1915 as “a bilingual, multicultural institution” and has remained faithful to that tradition from its beginning to the present. “That’s an amazing accomplishment and was very prophetic in those days, and San Antonio continues a tradition of being great leaders as our Church continues to grow as a multicultural family.”

Father Jeff Pehl, rector of the seminary since 2010, announced that Assumption has two new faculty members, Father Jesus Anguiano, ordained in 2009 for the archdiocese and a graduate of the seminary, Oblate School of Theology and the Mexican American Catholic College; and Father Jeffrey Harvey, a Vincentian ordained in 1993.

Mike Davis, the evening’s emcee, asked the audience to pray for the recovery of Brian Wallace, director of the Whitley Theological Center, who was seriously injured in a July 3 auto accident. “This event and this venue are not the same without the presence and the welcoming smile of the coordinator of facilities at Oblate School of Theology, Brian Wallace. Oblate Fathers, please remind Brian that he is in our thoughts and our prayers for his recovery,” he said.