Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Bishop White Seminary: It’s been a very good year
by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff
(From the May 24, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)
About 14 men are expected to take up residence at Bishop White Seminary in Spokane this fall. Nine will be candidates for the Spokane Diocese, four are coming from the Diocese of Yakima, and one from the Diocese of Juneau. Of Spokane’s nine, five have already started their seminary studies.
Father Darrin Connall has been rector of the seminary since June 2000. In reflecting on his first year, Father Connall talked about recruitment efforts and changes that will take place in the next few years.
One of the “great blessings I didn’t realize,” he said, is how the presence of Bishop White Seminary in the diocese is a “powerful tool” in drawing young men in the area to consider priesthood.
“When I meet with potential seminarians, I often bring them to the seminary to talk with them, or have them eat with the other seminarians or share Mass and prayer. It’s a powerful tool of encouragement.”
Father Connall employs many other “tools of encouragement.” He visits schools and gives presentations to interested groups. As part of Gonzaga University’s ministry effort, he appreciates the opportunity to preach and celebrate Mass there.
“The key to vocation recruitment is personal relationships,” he explained. He invests many hours in meeting with potential seminarians.
The seminary recently hosted 40 junior high boys from Cataldo School for a mini-retreat. Forty Cataldo junior high girls went to the Poor Clare Monastery for a mini-retreat of their own. “We’ll do more of these,” he said.
Father Connall explained a new program that he hopes to start soon if the grant application is approved.
“We’ve applied for a three-year grant from Serra International,” he said, “to fund discernment groups on the GU campus. They would meet monthly to help men discern what God is doing in their lives.” The program is based on a model at Georgetown University. He is excited about the program’s possibilities and describes it as “a fresh new look” for vocation work.
In their belief that the seminary is “somewhat under-utilized,” Bishop William Skylstad and Father Connall have also extended its use to other dioceses. “We’d like to see it become a regional seminary,” Father Connall said.
Local diocesan groups, such as the diocese’s building committee and the Office for Deacon Formation, also use the seminary, and Father Connall said they would like to attract other diocesan-affiliated groups.
However, as seminary use increases, so does the cost and Father Connall said they would be looking at long-range financial planning. Also, at the recommendation of the priestly formation council, Father Connall said they are “contemplating a major renovation” of the seminary.
Raising awareness of the seminary is also part of his job. “I was surprised to learn how few Catholics know about Bishop White,” he said. The seminary publishes a biannual newsletter and has established a web site.
Soon there will be a vocations website as well.
Even being a good neighbor is important. People in the seminary’s neighborhood and GU students drop by to attend Mass and pray with the seminarians.
Persons interested in knowing more about the seminary can visit the web site or call (509) 326-3255.
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