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​Seminary life during the pandemic

April 27, 2021 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper

Topics: Vocations


Seminary life during the pandemic

Last month a somber anniversary was observed. It has been one year since the archdiocese was affected by the spread of the coronavirus. Assumption Seminary made the difficult, yet necessary, decision to close the campus and send the seminarians home in March 2020. Seminary life became virtual. Using technology, seminarians joined classes and meetings from offices or living spaces. In fall 2020, Assumption re-opened the campus with safety protocols in place following the instructions of the archdiocese and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Classes were still on-line, but now it was necessary for the seminary to be creative in order to continue to form our students under the specter of a pandemic. The seminary was once again full of activity, albeit in a different way.

Mass, prayers, and spiritual recollection times continued as usual of course, however, not surprisingly, social gatherings became much more popular among the men. The seminary had many opportunities to celebrate being together as a community: with a Diez y Seis Fiesta, movie and game nights, soccer and flag football games, an Asian New Year’s party, Super Bowl watching, snowman building, a multi-cultural celebration, and a series of other events to help the men know the importance of building a sense of belonging through personal contact -- which has been difficult for many people since the pandemic began.

According to the Program for Priestly Formation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the seminary should provide opportunities to help the men grow in their relational capacities and styles, their maturity, their capacity to assume the role of a public person and leader in a community, and their appropriation of the human virtues that make them “men of communion.”

One aspect of community life that has been expanded has been the more intentional use of social media to connect with the larger community of the Church. Many parishes as well, have had to develop their technology in order to reach more of the faithful through these means. Assumption Seminary, through the efforts of a group of very talented seminarians who have had experience in this field, has tried to incorporate more media methods to share with others life at the seminary. With the use of well-known platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and the seminary’s own website, Assumption has tried to build up the Body of Christ as well as to encourage men and women to consider a vocation to religious life or priesthood.

Many dioceses are represented at Assumption, including the Dioceses of Laredo, El Paso, Corpus Christi, and Fort Worth, as well as Little Rock Arkansas; San Bernardino, California; Pueblo, Colorado; Davenport, Iowa; and the Archdioceses of Santa Fe, New Mexico and Omaha, Nebraska; and San Antonio, along with the Society of Domus Dei from New Orleans.

To see what activities the seminary has been doing, visit their website at www.assumptionseminary.org and the social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/assumptionseminary or Instagram @assumptionsem.