Laying the Foundation
Dear Friends in Christ,
Peace of Christ! What an incredible start to the new formation year we’ve had! The US bishops have tasked all seminaries in the country with adding a propaedeutic stage to their priestly formation program, and ours is now up and running.
This is a new approach to a man’s first year of seminary formation, focused more intensely on the human and spiritual dimensions of formation. The goal is to help them slow down to listen more attentively to the voice of the Good Shepherd at the start of their seminary formation, so that each of them can be “like a [wise] man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.” (Luke 6:48; cf. Matt 7:24)
The ten seminarians we have in this stage live, pray, and share their meals in Meyer Hall, set apart from the rest of the seminary community. They fast from computers, phones, and other forms of media to deepen the opportunity for silence, prayer, study, and intentional community life. The communion this fosters overflows into heartfelt mission as the men learn to give of themselves generously through daily manual labor, weekly outreach to the poor, and a three-week cultural immersion in the Dominican Republic.
Launching the program has been a leap of faith, but in just the first few months, the men are clearly thriving, as their testimonies make clear:
“The work that we are doing is fruitful. It has given me a connection to the poor around Milwaukee, humanizing them in a way that is helpful to both ministry and normal interactions."
“Our time with the Missionaries of Charity in Chicago was a true highlight. We spent time assisting the poor, teaching the catechism to immigrants from Venezuela, and praying the Liturgy of the Hours with the contemplative sisters. Their intense joy in the midst of extreme poverty is a great example of Christ’s call to carry our cross, and it is a great witness to those that they serve.”
“We had a blast hosting the young adults of Milwaukee this summer. We cooked for them every Wednesday and enjoyed good
conversations with them.”
Discerning the particular needs and challenges that men preparing for the priesthood face today, the bishops, in their wisdom, have given new seminarians a year filled with extraordinary graces. Now it is our task to raise the funds to support this magnificent initiative!
The propaedeutic stage extends a seminarians’ time in formation from six years to seven. Given that it costs over $60,000 per year to form each seminarian, adding another year increases our expenses considerably. The (arch)dioceses that send men to the Salesianum pay about half of the cost, and we must raise the difference.
Fortunately, we are blessed with a strong Catholic community that loves its seminarians! Thank you for everything you have done to support our men in the past. Your prayers for more priests have helped us grow to capacity with remarkable men who are committed to the Lord. Your contributions have allowed us to accept 81 men and make a home for them here at Saint Francis de Sales. Please don’t stop now! Together, we are doing something very special for the Lord!
Would you please prayerfully consider another gift at this time? We need your help to continue forming priests who will boldly proclaim Christ to the world. From seminarians in the propaedeutic stage to the 13 transitional deacons anticipating priestly ordination this spring (yes…13!), all of our men are grateful for – and benefit from – your prayers and financial support. Thank you so much. May God bless you for your generosity to Saint Francis de Sales Seminary.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Luke Strand
P.S. Please remember us in your year-end giving!