“After inquiry among the people of Christ and upon recommendation of those concerned with his training, I testify that he has been found worthy.”
These are the weighty words Fr. John Hemsing speaks to the archbishop when a man has been presented for ordination. Declaring the man worthy for the priesthood is a solemn duty. Fr. John’s “inquiry among the people of Christ” actually takes four years and extends well beyond the hallways of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary. It involves pastors and lay people, men and women, committees and staff. It involves a teaching parish.
Our highly-acclaimed Teaching Parish Program is a four-year commitment from a parish to a seminarian. The teaching parish committee walks with the seminarian and helps him experience all facets of parish life during his four years of theology studies. It provides eye-opening encounters and hands-on learning.
Deacon Barry Saylor (La Crosse) is in his fourth year at St. William Parish, and he sees that there are many facets to forming a well-prepared, holy priest. “Seminarians have a responsibility to learn as much as they can in the parish setting, so they will become the priests people need and want. My teaching parish has shown me that being present to the people is key, and their needs come before my own. I’ve been blessed to witness, through the example of my pastor and associate, the true desire to be there for the people. It’s an example I hope and pray I will always keep in the forefront of my own future ministry.”
There is a great deal of practical knowledge to impart to a seminarian, and the process can be challenging, yet the “people of Christ” who are helping him, treasure the experience. Pam Pyzyk leads Deacon Aaron Laskiewicz’s (Milwaukee) teaching parish committee at St. John Vianney Parish. She shared, “Being a member of the committee affords the opportunity to serve as mentor, colleague, parent and friend. We advise Deacon Aaron and make recommendations, always with his best interests at heart. There is a serious responsibility to ensure he is ready for ordination. The members of our committee quickly arrived at the realization that this was an important endeavor, and every member made a serious commitment to be in attendance at the meetings and provide Deacon Aaron with honest feedback.” Pam added, “He has become a dear friend, which is a benefit I didn’t expect!”
This is the tenth year Saint Francis de Sales Seminary has included the Teaching Parish Program in its curriculum, in addition to a traditional, full-slate of academic courses. It is all part of our formation program designed to ensure that every man who steps forward for ordination to the priesthood has been found worthy.
Fr. Ken Omernick’s St. Charles Parish has helped many seminarians over the years and is currently working with two more. When asked why a busy parish would take on the extra concerns of forming seminarians, Fr. Ken’s answer was simple, “It offers hope.”
Donate online now!