Having gone through college at the University of Dallas (a Catholic Liberal Arts School) before entering Seminary, I was half-expecting six more years of the same type of education when I arrived. I was soon deeply impressed at how different Kenrick’s education is.
The program of formation not only covers philosophy and theology, but also provides courses and assignments tailored for practical concerns in the life of a parish priest. One of my favorite classes so far has been ‘Pastoral Counseling’, in which we learned (and practiced with real people) the skills for counseling people experiencing turbulence in their lives. I find the priest’s role of provide consolation and peace for those in distress to be immensely attractive; we have a series of counseling courses ordered precisely to this important task.
Another unexpected highlight of my times in seminary has been an eight month internship at St. Joseph’s Parish in Imperial. While at St. Joseph’s, I taught 5th and 6th grade literature for a semester — something I never expected to do, but which was immensely rewarding. I was also moved at how people often related to me as a priest – in the sense of a trusted person who could aid them in seeing Christ working in their lives. These conversations helped me to appreciate exactly how deeply a priest can aid a person through pointing out how Jesus has been working in their life.
Life at Kenrick often feels like a whirlwind of activity, but, at its root, Kenrick is a deep spiritual brotherhood of men, real men, who are preparing for a life-long mission of bringing Christ to the world. The sense of living our lives in service to Jesus and his Church is tangible in this community; on any given weekend there are a number of men going to assist with retreats, visit with the homeless, or bring communion to the sick. These strong friendships develop playing soccer and racquetball together, studying for exams, but especially when we just sit and chat about our journeys to seminary and how we see Christ in the lives of those we encounter in the parishes.
The dynamic of receiving great courses and formation and then turning around and implementing these tools in service to the people of God creates a marvelous spirit of generosity here. It is difficult to describe what is happening at Kenrick; it is at once challenging and exhausting but incredibly meaningful and uplifting. I can think of no other place I would want to be formed to be a priest to serve Jesus Christ and His Church.
Charlie Archer is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He will be ordained a priest in 2021. For more information about Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, click here.