As thousands of young people started the new school year here in Santa Clara County, the Diocese of San Jose’s seminarians began their academic year at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Their academic year started on August 21 with a week-long retreat. On August 28, they began their normal schedule of prayer, Eucharist, theological lectures, discussion groups, spiritual direction, reading, class meetings, local pastoral work and exercise (including joining the Mundelein basketball team). The seven San Jose seminarians join 198 other seminarians from dioceses around the country and world, including Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Wichita, Hanoi, and Kiyinda-Mityana, Uganda.
On August 30, Cardinal Blase Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago, celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit, a customary start for Catholic academic institutions. Cardinal Cupich challenged the seminarians, especially the 36 entering into their first year of theological studies, to be filled with the Holy Spirit which enables them to forgive and unite as Jesus did. The San Jose seminarians have been warmly welcomed by Cardinal Cupich, the rector, Father John Kartje, faculty and staff. The Vice Rector, Father Brian Welter, went as far as carrying the heavy bags of the seminarians much to the humbling surprise of Robain Lamba, a San Jose seminarian starting his second year of theology.
Our seven seminarians are looking forward to the formation at Mundelein which includes studies in the Holy Land, summer hospital work back in the Bay Area, and pastoral work in the inner city of Chicago. The faculty have made adaptations to the needs of the Diocese of San Jose such as assigning Deacon Francis Kalaw to a Mandarin-speaking parish, John Hoang to a Vietnamese-speaking parish, Deacon Eric Piczon and Manuel Barrios to Spanish-speaking parishes.
The seminarians are grateful for the support they have received from Bishop McGrath and others, like Anne Grycz, retired diocesan director of the Institute of Leadership and Ministry, who organized a special blessing before the seminarians left. The San Jose Knights of Columbus sponsored specially made winter coats, a welcome gift to seminarians like Deacon Edgar Elamparo, who grew up a tropical environment.
While at Mundelein, the seminarians are looking to remain connected to the Diocese of San Jose. Victor Trinidad, entering his third year of theology, will be in charge of posting Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts through the Office of Vocations. Deacon Eric Piczon will coordinate with any school or parish youth group that wants to connect through live Skype interviews. The Office of Vocations will also coordinate ways to connect the seminarians with the people of San Jose through prayer campaigns, as well as school and parish adopt-a-seminarian programs.