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Golfing for Seminarians

Thirty-sixth annual Desert Golf Classic raises money for Holy Land pilgrimage.

by MOSAIC Editorial Team

Every spring, first-year theology seminarians embark on the Desert Formation Experience, a thirty-day spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land and western Europe. To make this once-in-a-lifetime formation experience possible, supporters of Sacred Heart Major Seminary from all over southeast Michigan assemble each fall for the Desert Golf Classic, which helps fund the pilgrimage.

This year, the Desert Golf Classic was held September 17, at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan. Seminarians welcomed more than 130 golfers who showed up to support the pilgrimage experience.

“It’s important to support the seminarians in their formation, primarily because we need good priests in the world,” said Paul Erickson, Sacred Heart alumnus Class of 1998 and supporter of Sacred Heart Major Seminary. “Traveling to the Holy Land helps [the seminarians] to envision the Gospel, it makes anyone a better Christian by seeing these places and experiencing them firsthand.” 

After a gorgeous day out on the course, golfers moved indoors to the Garden Gallery to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and the company of good friends. For Tanya Carlson, supporter of Sacred Heart and a parishioner at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Lake Orion, Michigan, the highlight of the day was meeting and conversing with the seminarians.

“They’re always full of energy, talking to us and interacting with us,” said Tanya. “It’s fun to meet them, find out where they’re from and hear their stories.”

During dinner, Ryan Eggenberger, a second-year theology seminarian, shared highlights of his Desert Formation spiritual pilgrimage.

“In short, it was like walking around in the pages of the Bible itself,” said Ryan. “In so many ways, you were with us the entire time. We prayed for you and your intentions a lot—at every group rosary and every pilgrimage site we stopped at.”

He went on to thank everyone for helping to make their formation experience and pilgrimage possible. “Because of God’s goodness to us through you, we experienced formation that otherwise would not have been possible. Because of the gift of this pilgrimage, my classmates and I have become witnesses again to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” said Ryan.

The evening was capped with an award presentation and the distribution of prizes, including the accuracy shot contest, won by none other than Sacred Heart’s rector, Msgr. Todd Lajiness. Monsignor generously requested that the prize go to the runner-up, Salvatore Samone. Also present during dinner were Cardinal Adam Maida, archbishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of Detroit, and the Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron, archbishop of Detroit.

Archbishop Vigneron praised the attendees for their prayers and generous support of the Desert Classic, which has benefited hundreds of seminarians since its inception over thirty-six years ago.

“I’m very grateful for the support and obvious fellowship that you women and men find in spending this time together,” said the Archbishop. “I think it will bear wonderful fruit in the years to come.”

We hope to see you next year for the thirty-seventh annual Desert Golf Classic on September 16, 2019. To learn about becoming a sponsor or forming a team, please visit

MOSAIC Editorial Team

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.