The coronavirus pandemic has imposed significant restrictions on many of our daily activities and goals, but we at Sacred Heart Major Seminary have set our hearts and minds toward continuing our mission of formation with minimal interruption. With the coordination of other seminary faculty and staff, seminary leaders have enacted a variety of measures to ensure that our seminarians may continue their pivotal human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation.
Prior to their departure, our seminarians completed a form that would inspire them to think intentionally about how their time away from the seminary would be structured and to help them think about what each day would look like in order to maintain strong levels of productivity and navigate well times of less structure and higher stress. With these responses, our formation advisors have been asked to check in with seminarians once a week via phone, Zoom, or email to ensure that their human formation may continue and be focused.
Spiritual directors will also continue their regular meetings via telephone. During Holy Week, a time we normally have a retreat, seminarians were provided with a series of talks on the seven last words of Christ via recorded video, as well as reflections each day during the Octave of Easter to assist in their continued spiritual growth.
Additionally, all courses, including our upcoming Spring Term courses, are available online. Many higher education institutions have been increasing their availability of distance learning, and Sacred Heart Major Seminary is no exception. Our faculty have shown great care and urgency in making our academic courses available digitally.
The suspension of all our specialized programming in May-- Holy Land pilgrimage, Spanish language immersion program, preaching camp, and participation in the Institute for Priestly Formation-- has required us to be thoughtful and creative. Where one window is closed, another window is opened by God’s grace! As a result, the members of the priest formation team have taken responsibility for smaller class groups and will organize weekly remote formation activities that will be appropriate to their level in the formation program. We will also gather via Zoom for a weekly Rosary with all the seminarians during the month of May. These new programs will be a first for us, but we are committed to the continued formation of our seminarians, even if remotely.
We are working very vigorously to care for the seminarians, to create a safe environment, and to make our way through these challenges as a faith-filled community. The dedication of our spiritual directors and formation advisors have exhibited has been greatly appreciated. This unprecedented time will be an incredible opportunity for the seminarians to press even more deeply into the Heart of Jesus; to recognize our dependence upon God’s grace; to inflame within them a strong desire to serve, and to break open their hearts in new and exciting ways.
In Christ and through His most Sacred Heart,
Msgr. Todd Lajiness