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New Director of Admissions and Enrollment Returns to Sacred Heart Major Seminary

John Lajiness hopes to become a ‘spiritual multiplier’ as he guides lay ministry students through their paths of discernment

by Karla Dorweiler

Stepping into the role of Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management at Sacred Heart Major Seminary felt like going home for John Lajiness.

Lajiness first made SHMS his home when he entered as a seminarian after high school. He obtained his philosophy degree in 1998 and studied theology for a year at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, eventually discerning the vocation of married life, but always feeling called to ministry. 

“I had a strong passion to lay down my life for the Lord,” said Lajiness. “Seminary prepared me for a great marriage because the kind of self-gift for which you prepare in order to be a priest is exactly the kind of self-gift to which a husband is called, just in a different way. I was able to approach both my marriage and my ministry with that formation from Sacred Heart.”

Lajiness has worked at several parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit and served as Assistant Dean/Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management from 2004-2008. He obtained his master’s degree in theology from Sacred Heart in 2006.

Now as Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management, Lajiness serves lay ecclesial ministers who want to dive deeper into their Catholic faith, and men who are discerning the permanent diaconate. He assists students as they take the first step to enrolling at Sacred Heart and then works for their success as they determine their path of learning and growing. In addition, he looks forward to working with moderators and the team of priests within the context of the new Families of Parishes model.

“One of my deepest desires is to be a resource to them,” Lajiness said. “Being guided in the richness of the faith can help so many at a parish level, and there are many different ways to do that.”

Classes at Sacred Heart Major Seminary range from individual online courses to more than a dozen certificate, associate, bachelor’s, graduate and post-graduate programs in philosophy, theology, the New Evangelization, and other areas. Some certificate programs can be completed entirely online, and an online master’s degree will be available in the future. 

Free online courses, such as Ralph Martin’s “A Church in Crisis: Pathways Forward,” offer interested students a chance to take a self-paced, non-credit bearing class. Engaging in an online class often leads to a desire for further enrichment through additional classes or degrees. 

“It's personal to me,” said Lajiness. “I came here at first thinking the Lord was calling me one way and then He called me another way. That’s why I love this role so much and I’m happy to come back to it. There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing somebody discerning what the Lord is saying to them and growing in that. It’s a blessing to witness the power of the Holy Spirit literally working right in front of you.”

Lajiness sees the development of online programs at Sacred Heart as an opportunity to share the New Evangelization with people outside the Archdiocese of Detroit. Remote learning options allow priests and lay people around the country and the world to learn how to apply the principles of evangelization in their own communities and dioceses.

“The last 20 years of working in a few different parishes has only furthered my perspective and my resolve that the seminary is an incredible gift,” said Lajiness. “We have so many opportunities for anyone to connect with us. There’s a spot for everyone and so many ways to access our programs.”

Lajiness believes the faculty at Sacred Heart is a key to its excellent reputation, noting that many, including Dr. Ralph Martin, Dr. Mary Healy, and other faculty members, have been at the forefront of promoting the New Evangelization and the missionary transformation in the Church as envisioned by St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis, as well as by Archbishop Allen Vigneron in his 2017 pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel.

As Lajiness settles in at Sacred Heart, he feels right at home. At the same time, he hopes God will push him beyond his comfort zone and guide him to be a “spiritual multiplier”, that is, Lajiness prays he will help form disciples who will deepen their faith at Sacred Heart and then bring others to the Lord.

“I truly believe Sacred Heart is a unique place and the Lord is doing unique things here,” he said.

If you feel called to lay ecclesial ministry (such as pastoral associate, director of religious education, youth ministry, campus ministry, theology teacher, etc.), get started with the online application or give the Office of Admissions a call at (313) 883-8696 to schedule your admissions interview.

by Karla Dorweiler

Karla Dorweiler

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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.