Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
October 1, 2001
Teen discerns vocation in B.C.
St. Albert school division, Alberta government fund boy's year in seminary
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
ST. ALBERT — Gregory Schiller is attending a minor seminary in British Columbia and the Alberta government is picking up the tab.
The Greater St. Albert Catholic School District has reached an agreement with Christ the King Seminary in Mission, B.C., to help Schiller, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student, attend the seminary.
"(God) has called me to the seminary to discern my vocation," Gregory told the WCR.
The project is a first of its kind.
"We felt that it is beneficial for the student and a positive act for the district," Gordon Boddez, vice chair of the board of trustees, told the WCR.
Schiller has been home schooled except for Grade 2 and 3 when he attended Bertha Kennedy Catholic School.
Over the summer, Vince and Shelagh Schiller, Gregory's parents, wrote to the superintendent and applied for funding so their son can attend Grade 11 at Christ the King.
Alberta Learning decided to approve the plan as an "auditioned program."
Alberta Learning will provide a sum of $4,534 to the school division which in turn will forward the money to the Benedictine-run school in B.C.
"It is a real opportunity for us to help develop programs that will give attention and support so that more (young men) consider the priesthood," Boddez said.
Christ the King, which focuses on helping young men discern and prepare for the priesthood, is the only high school seminary in Western Canada.
Academic standards are high but the most important and unique facets of the program are the spiritual, personal and community life formation of its students.
Spiritual direction, community life, prayer and interaction with others are some of the important structures that promote the goals of the seminary.
Christ the King is not a boarding school, although the students do live and study there.
Applicants are screened before being allowed to attend the seminary. They are also normally required to attend several live-in weekends during which applicants are given an overview of what it is like to live and study there.
This tuition agreement between the district and Christ the King will be evaluated and if it yields positive results, the district will continue promoting it, Boddez said.
Gregory's parents were jubilant, excited and praising God when they heard of the approval.
It was a prayer answered when (the board of trustees) unanimously approved the request, the couple told the WCR.
The Schillers have seven children ranging in age from 16 to two and all are home schooled.
Vince said through home schooling, they are able to pass on Christian virtues and values to their children.
"We encourage them to be open to vocations and so we try and provide them a fuller picture of vocation and not just career," Vince said.
Part of their curriculum is frequent attendance at daily Mass and daily recitation of the rosary.
Had they not exposed the children to such practices, Shelagh doubts if Gregory would even consider attending a seminary to discern his vocation to the priesthood.
Prior to attending Christ the King, Gregory had been active with Youth Mannafest, Youth for Truth and Christian Family Life Conference.
Ever since Gregory was able to understand, his parents started talking to him about vocations.
It was in 1999 that he first thought of attending Christ the King when he learned about it from friends.
Gregory is not sure if the priesthood is really his vocation. But he said it is important to discover what God is calling him to be and to do. He believes the seminary is the perfect place to do that.
"At home you work on your time but here you've got to be able to learn and play and pray with the community," said Gregory.
The structured prayer life at Christ the King is the most profound experience that he has had so far. "I never sang Gregorian chant before but now I am beginning to really love and enjoy it," he said.
"Everyone here has a great sense of compassion for those who are adjusting to a life far away from home," he said.
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