Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
October 5, 2009
Donating to seminary, college is investing in our church's future
Much has been made in recent years about how the average size of a new house in North America has doubled in recent decades while the average number of children per family is only half of what it was. These facts say a lot about our priorities. They can also remind us of the words of prophet Haggai.
Haggai lived at a time when the Jewish Temple was in ruins and needed to be rebuilt. The people of Israel, however, lived in luxury and paid little attention to the need for renovations to the Temple, God's house.
"Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses while this house lies in ruins?" Haggai asked. "Consider how you have fared. You have sown much and harvested little; you eat but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and you that earn wages put them into a bag with holes" (1.4-6).
It was a stark indictment of the misplaced priorities of the people.
By contrast, in the Edmonton Archdiocese, most of our churches are in quite good repair. We have done well in caring for them.
But we do have a pressing need to raise another $11 million to build a new seminary and theological college. There is little question that the cost of building and maintaining such structures falls disproportionately on the people of the Edmonton Archdiocese. Just as surely, however, the benefits of having these institutions in our diocese accrue most to the local Church.
The relocation of St. Joseph Seminary and Newman Theological College to central Edmonton is the most important challenge that has faced our Church in a long time. But if responded to with faith and charity, it will bear lasting fruit for many decades, perhaps centuries.
The new structures will be a city landmark speaking to all of the importance Catholics today put on the education of priests and laity. Yet, the designs for these buildings do not appear extravagant. They will be beautiful without being luxurious.
If Edmonton needs a new hockey arena - and one might well question that "need" - how much more does it need a new seminary and theological college?
Despite the world recession, many still live in a material prosperity that was undreamt of in the days of our parents and grandparents. In pioneer days, families would donate what little free time they had to ensure a church got built in their settlement. It was priority number one. Today we need to recover that pioneering spirit and give of ourselves so that our diocese and our province have the Spirit to go with our prosperity.
The prophet Haggai related how God wanted the people to go into the hills and bring wood to build the Temple. We are being asked for far less than that today - only money. How can we not answer the call?
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.