“SOS!” August is Support Our Seminarians Month!
Your generosity will go a long way to aid our growing number of diocesan seminarians and their families!
CHICAGO, IL [MW Diocese Communications] — In a letter dated August 1, 2013, Archpriest John Zdinak, Chancellor, calls upon the faithful of the Diocese of the Midwest to rally in support of the growing number of diocesan seminarians — many of whom are married with children — during the month of August, which has been designated by the Diocesan Council as “Support Our Seminarians Month.”
In an effort to build awareness of the seminarians’ needs, flyers are being sent to all parishes in early August for local distribution. Parishes are being asked to raise funds, culminating in “SOS Sunday” on August 25, that the Diocese will distribute directly to the seminarians to offset the cost of their educational and living expenses.
“The financial situation of our seminarians had been a keen concern of the late Archbishop Job, during whose tenure a fund for their support had been established,” said Father Zdinak. “What we hope for is a concerted effort on the part of our entire diocesan family to ‘fund the fund’ to provide assistance on a per-semester basis. Regardless of how a parish chooses to raise funds, the result of our collective stewardship will help ensure that our seminarians and their families will find a measure of ‘relief’ from increasing living and educational expenses.”
The text of Father John's letter, which is available here in PDF format, reads as follows.
To All Rectors and Priests-in-Charge in the Diocese of the Midwest
August 1, 2013
Glory to Jesus Christ!
With the blessing of His Grace, Bishop Alexander, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the Midwest, the members of our Diocesan Council have agreed to ask all parishes of the Diocese of the Midwest to collect funds to assist our diocesan seminarians during the month of August 2013 — “Support Our Seminarians Month.”
Allow me, for a moment, to paint a picture of the plight of our seminarians.
The typical seminarian is in his or her late 20s or early 30s, married, with young children. He or she has abandoned a promising career and has asked his or her spouse to do the same in order to respond to Our Lord’s call. They have bid their kinsfolk and friends adieu, and moved their family and belongings to Saint Vladimir’s Seminary in New York or Saint Tikhon’s Seminary in Pennsylvania.
The seminarian is responsible to participate in morning and evening services. The seminarian is responsible to attend classes during the day and to study at night. And the seminarian is responsible for daily work responsibilities at the seminary — such as food preparation and cleaning in the refectory.
The burden of making ends meet and of taking care of the children therefore falls on the spouse. Perhaps they will take out loans to help pay tuition and living expenses, and so leave school with a mountain of debt, as might any student graduating from a secular institution. However, unlike many students graduating from secular institutions, the graduating seminarian does not have a lucrative career to which to look forward when he or she returns to the Diocese of the Midwest, but rather a life of mission work, often combined with side-jobs.
As a Church, how can we act together to assist those from our beloved Diocese who have sacrificed so much to devote their lives to serving the People of God? It would be a worthy gesture indeed, if we as a Diocese could commit to financially supporting our diocesan seminarians 100%! Unfortunately, we are not quite “there” yet.
Currently, the diocesan budget allocates $20,000.00 to the Archbishop Job Memorial Seminarian Grant Fund, which is divided amongst the seminarians. With about ten seminarians expected, that comes to $1,000.00 per seminarian, per semester. I think it goes without saying that, for a seminarian with a spouse and one or two children, this sum does not even begin to cover a month’s rent, groceries, utilities, insurance, and other necessities — much less the actual cost of a seminary education!
Therefore, let us strive to double that amount through our special efforts this month! Parishes may raise funds through whatever means they deem appropriate. Perhaps a collection basket on Sunday, August 25, or on every Sunday during the month of August.
Please distribute the enclosed flyers. Announce our effort from the ambo. Include some or all of the information in your parish bulletin. Hold a bake sale, a pledge drive, or whatever fundraisers that are especially effective in your particular community. Whatever the means, the resulting gift will be received gratefully by our seminarians.
Every semester, we receive many ecstatic letters from them, praising God and thanking the Diocese — you! — for the timely and “life saving” assistance. This year, may we “outdo” ourselves in showing our support for those who are destined to guide our beloved Diocese for many, many years to come!
With love in Christ,
Archpriest John Zdinak