GRANGER — When Deacon Jacob Meyer comes home from Pontifical College Josephinum during school breaks, he often brings fellow students with him. Kurt and Julie Meyer, Deacon Meyer’s parents, observed that some of his fellow seminarians don’t always get to travel home because of distance and travel costs.
After getting to know the seminarians, the Meyers recognized their need for spiritual and financial support.
“Seminarians have no job for income,” said Julie. “They are committed to discerning their vocation, studies and serving their parish on breaks and summers. Their needs are simple: financial support for little things like laundry supplies, stamps and travel expenses.”
After the Meyers discussed their concern with their son, Deacon Meyer went to St. Pius X pastor Msgr. Bill Schooler to consider a program at the parish that would spotlight the needs of these young men. The Adopt-a-Seminarian program was developed to encourage financial and spiritual support for all Fort Wayne-South Bend seminarians.
Msgr. Schooler thought it was a great idea because “it connects young men studying for the priesthood with our parishioners and it is a good way to promote vocations within our parish.”
Betsy Quinn, director of Evangelization and Stewardship at St. Pius, invited the Meyers to become a part of a committee, which would oversee the program. During two weekends in February, multiple copies of information sheets for each diocesan seminary student were distributed to interested parishioners after every Mass.
Each information sheet included the seminary student’s picture, home parish, birthday, year in seminary and anticipated graduation date. The sheets also communicated some of the student’s favorite things such as treats, sporting team, stores and needs such as laundry and toiletry items. Parishioners were also given a prayer card for vocations to read throughout the year for each seminarian’s spiritual needs.
Seminary student Bill Meininger, who is spending his pastoral year at St. Pius X, emphasized the Adopt-a-Seminarian program provides the opportunity for a greater feeling of connection for the student with the home diocese while away.
“Knowing that we have so many people praying for us and supporting us in other ways is very encouraging and at the same time humbling, as we are reminded that we aren’t going through these years of study and formation for ourselves, but for the faithful of the diocese,” noted Meininger.
“With so much talk of the priest shortage in the Church today, the Adopt-a-Seminarian program is a wonderful way for the laity to get involved and, in a very real way, support the vocations we do have and encourage and pray that more men are willing to answer the call,” Meininger added.
Committee members Angie and John Miller expressed excitement about the development of the program at St. Pius X going forward.
“While the intent in phase one of this program was to initiate a simple exchange of a gift from a family to an individual seminarian, our long-term goal is to have a more ongoing and enduring relationship where the family is in touch on a more regular basis with letters, Facebook posts, You Tube videos, etc,” John emphasized. “We also hope that we can expand into the classrooms of St. Pius X School next year and get all the kids involved to further extend the bond.”
Angie adds, “Our hope is also that classrooms will respond in some way so our students can look to the seminarians as healthy role models.”
Out of town guests from Indianapolis who attended Mass during the Adopt-a-Seminarian kickoff were intrigued by the program’s concept and asked for contact information to start a similar program in their parish, the Meyers noted.
At least one St. Pius X family decided to deliver their gifts to their adopted seminarian in person. The Scott Null family, on vacation in Rome during this year’s spring break, met seminarian Royce Gregerson and presented him with a duffel bag full of gifts. Gregerson is currently studying in Rome at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.
Kurt Meyer summed up the importance of parish support of vocations. “Parishioners are always looking to help. Impressed with the faith, determination and sacrifice of these young men the Adopt-a-Seminarian program seemed like a nice way to help them with basic needs during school. They represent the future of our Church, and this program can be a significant blessing to each of these young men.”