November 10, 2011

A Big Move and a New Beginning

Today the long awaited announcement was made regarding the fate of Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, Long Island.  The seminary has educated and formed priests for the dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre since 1930.   It has also educated hundreds of lay men and women in its MA and D.Min programs as well as formed deacons for the diocese of Rockville Centre.  Beginning with the fall 2012 semester, seminarians from Brooklyn and RVC will be formed and educated at the New York Archdiocesan seminary, St. Joseph's in Yonkers.

Adoration at the Seminary Chapel
It wasn't a complete surprise to those of us who keep up with these things. Discussions have been going on for at least two years now. While it is probably a good move to consolidate the two seminaries since both  have low enrollments, it comes with a lot of sadness. I earned my MA in Theology, post graduate certificate in Pastoral Ministry, and Doctor of Ministry degrees at the seminary.  I have enjoyed studying with the seminarians and getting to know the professors and working with some of them in my ministry.  I am on the Graduate Association Board, and the board of their online journal, Seat of Wisdom, have taught a summer workshop there, and was part of the diaconate formation faculty for two years. I often find myself up in Huntington for different events, workshops, lectures, retreats, convocations, days of recollection, or to use their excellent theological library when researching for articles or a class.   It holds a special place in my heart.

The building is not closing however. The graduate program will still continue so that many more lay people will be able to earn their degrees and better serve in ministry in Rockville Centre and Brooklyn.  The building will also be open for retreats and other programs that will serve the priests, deacons and laity of the Metropolitian area, and especially our young people. New programs associated with the New Evangelization will be housed on campus.

Things change, and as as we are discovering with the transition to the revised English texts of the Roman Missal, some will find it difficult, some will miss what we have now, but many are looking forward to the good that these changes will bring to our celebration of the Mass. So too with the changes to our beloved seminary. We will miss being part of the seminarians experience, for I do believe that the presence of the laity in classes and in the building was beneficial to their formation. Hopefully the changes will bring new opportunities to interact with priests and deacons and to gather with those in lay ministry. I am sure it will bring a new springtime to the old building, new people in the halls, new programs to be part of, new ways to educate and form good men and women to work in the vineyard of the Lord.

I pray that the transition will be a smooth one.  I know one priest on the faculty who is excited to pack his bags and head across the Throgs Neck Bridge and search out the golf courses and eateries in Westchester in addition to the new experiences that will await him in Dunwoodie if he is asked by our bishop to accompany the seminarians there.  The seminarians too are probably looking at this move as something bittersweet.  Some are leaving a place that has been home for several years.  It will be a good thing for all three dioceses and the people of of Rockville Centre, Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of NY will benefit in many ways.  New programs and new opportunities to grow in our faith. But for now, it's bit sad...

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