“SOS!” September is “Support Our Seminarians” Month!
CHICAGO, IL [MW Diocese Communications] — In a letter dated September 1, 2015, His Grace, Bishop Paul, calls upon the faithful to rally in support of the growing number of diocesan seminarians — many of whom are married with children — during the month of September, which every year is designated by our Diocesan Council as “Support Our Seminarians Month.”
In an effort to build awareness of our seminarians’ needs, flyers are being sent to all parishes for distribution. The flyer also is available in PDF format and may be downloaded here for reproduction and distribution to the faithful during the month of September. All donations from parishes as well as individuals — culminating in “SOS Sunday” on September 27 — will be distributed directly to the seminarians to offset the cost of their educational and living expenses.
“Assisting our seminarians in bearing the burden of educational costs and ever-increasing living expenses — especially for those who are married — is crucial,” said Bishop Paul. “Once again, we are counting on our faithful and parishes to respond generously — and responsibility — to assist our future pastors and leaders, who will be serving the Church in the decades to come.”
Regardless of how a parish chooses to raise SOS funds, the result will help ensure that our seminarians and their families will find some measure of “relief” from increasing living and educational expenses.
The text of Bishop Paul’s letter, which also is available in PDF format here, reads as follows.
Letter of Bishop Paul of Chicago regarding the 2015 “Support Our Seminarians” Appeal
September 1, 2015
Glory to Jesus Christ!
With the beginning of the new Church year, we also begin another year of seminary education at Saint Vladimir Theological Seminary and Saint Tikhon Theological Seminary. This year we will have nine students attending both seminaries. Three people graduated from Saint Tikhon’s last May: Deacon Theophan Warren, Joel Brady, and Michael Skor. May God bless their future ministry in the Church, whether that is in continuing education, parish ministry, or chaplaincy.
I am writing to once again ask for your support for our students. September of each year has been set aside to do just that. Please use the month of September to take up special collections or conduct special fundraisers (i.e. bake sales, parish meals, car washes), the proceeds of which can go towards supporting our nine students. As you know, our students are given a stipend of $1,000.00 per semester to assist them in the expenses which they incur as a result of their studies.
Each year, we send this letter out with the intent to explain why parishes should do this for our Midwest students. So I will give it my best shot.
The first reason is that the nature of the sacrifices single or married students make to go to seminary is great. Students are unable to get jobs while at seminary to help offset costs. In between class time, studies, community service, and church attendance there is no way outside employment is possible. The ones that do end up getting jobs are the spouses of the students who study. That means that they have to arrange and pay for childcare, if they have kids needing day care.
Many students end up getting student loans to fund their seminary costs, which means leaving seminary with 30 to 60 thousand dollars of debt. For those who do seek to serve in the Church, some have to seek their own employment because they may end up in an assignment where the parish is unable to adequately support them.
The whole point of the September “Support Our Seminarians” drive is to do what we can as a diocese to help our students and to minimize their debt and ease their burden in a small way. To paraphrase our Chancellor, Archpriest John Zdinak at the last All-American Council, “I spent $9.00 on a beer today. If I can do that, why can’t I come up with a $20.00 donation to help those in Syria that are homeless?” That same line of thought applies here. When a family goes out to see a movie or a ball game, they easily spend anywhere from $150.00 to $400.00 for the evening. How about skipping a movie during the month and setting aside that $150.00 for our seminarians?
Your generous support for this will be greatly appreciated by me, but most importantly by the students you would be helping. Thanks for taking time to prayerfully consider the stewardship you can provide here. Please pray for those who seek to serve the Church and discern their vocation through study at our two seminaries in Pennsylvania and New York.
The blessing of the Lord be upon you.
Your servant in Christ,
Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest