Adam Rieger, Karl Trautmann, Sedney Polinar and John Duane Carmichael are among 53 seminarians from 12 Western Canadian dioceses studying at St. Joseph Seminary this year, the largest number since the 1960s.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Adam Rieger, Karl Trautmann, Sedney Polinar and John Duane Carmichael are among 53 seminarians from 12 Western Canadian dioceses studying at St. Joseph Seminary this year, the largest number since the 1960s.

October 6, 2014
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Thanks to prayer and hard work, St. Joseph Seminary is bursting with seminarians this year. Currently 53 seminarians from several Western dioceses are studying for the priesthood at St. Joseph. That's about 10 more than last year.

"This is very exciting," said seminary rector Father Stephen Hero. "These things go a little bit in cycles sometimes but I have to say we haven't had this many (seminarians) probably since the late 1960s."

The seminary has room for 60 seminarians and 51 are living in house at the moment. Two are away doing their pastoral internships.

The seminary can be expanded to accommodate 90 seminarians but there is no thought of that at the moment. Hero said the growth has to be consistent for a number of years before expansion is given consideration.

The seminary currently serves 12 dioceses, mostly in Western Canada. Calgary has the most seminarians at 10. Regina has nine. Edmonton and Nelson each have six. Other dioceses may have between two and four seminarians.

Hero gives credit to the dioceses for the increase in seminarians, saying they are doing a "good job" in talking about vocations, praying about vocations and creating a culture where vocations are welcomed.

"There are also a lot of good efforts being made in youth groups in parishes and on university campuses," he said.

"A good number of our vocations here at the seminary are young men who have been involved in youth groups or movements on campus like Catholic Christian Outreach and the National Evangelization Team, where they meet Christ in a powerful way and become involved in evangelization of their peers."

ANSWERING THE CALL

Adam Rieger, a restaurant server from St. Albert, said God had been speaking to him about the priesthood for about six years. He decided to answer the call and enrolled in the seminary in late August.

"It's awesome," the 26-year-old said of the seminary. "I like the lifestyle; there's lots of prayer, lots of bonding and camaraderie and good food. It's hard not to enjoy yourself."

Sedney Polinar, a 27-year-old nurse, says, "I'm very excited because I'm fulfilling my dream to serve the Lord as a priest."

Polinar has been discerning his vocation to the diocesan priesthood since he arrived in St. Paul from the Philippines in February of last year. He made the decision to enroll at St. Joseph after spending a weekend at the seminary last November.

Fr. Stephen Hero

Fr. Stephen Hero

Karl Trautmann, 23, came to the seminary from Victoria. "I had been thinking about the priesthood off and on for the last four years and decided that my discernment had to be in a seminary," he explained.

Things are going well for the young musician.

"They have a fantastic suggested schedule to accommodate a healthy prayer life and obviously great meals," Trautmann said. "We've got opportunities to exercise and play sports and bond with each other as well as time of your own to study, read or pray."

John Duane Carmichael, 29, started to dream about the priesthood years ago while talking about the shortage of priests with a pastor. "I started thinking 'What can I do to help?' This eventually grew to the point I felt I was being called to the priesthood," he recalled.

Carmichael spent a year with the Franciscans in Victoria but when he realized he wanted to be a diocesan priest he transferred to St. Joseph Seminary to study for the Edmonton Archdiocese.

"I feel really good here," he said. "I like the beauty of the place too."

PLACE OF DISCERNMENT

Not everyone who enters the seminary becomes a priest. The purpose of the seminary is to help seminarians discern their vocation and some of them discover that God isn't calling them to be a priest.

"Sometimes they decide to leave; sometimes we decide," Hero explained.

"Vocations are mysterious. It requires the meeting of two freedoms: God's freedom and the individual's freedom. God calls; a person is free to respond."