September 12, 2008

‘A simple and joyful house of prayer’: Former Carmelite monastery in Indianapolis dedicated as new Bishop Bruté seminary home

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein imparts a blessing on Sept. 8 at the end of the dedication of the new home of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary, 2500 Cold Spring Road, in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein imparts a blessing on Sept. 8 at the end of the dedication of the new home of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary, 2500 Cold Spring Road, in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

The hallways of the new home of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis resounded with chanted prayers going up to holy men and women throughout the ages on Sept. 8.

On that day, the 17 Bishop Bruté seminarians gathered with Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, their faculty and staff, some 40 priests and representatives of Marian College and Saint Meinrad School of Theology to dedicate their new home, which, until recently, had been the home of Carmelite nuns for 75 years.

Archbishop Buechlein spoke of his wishes for the seminary and its ties to the past in his homily during the dedication Mass. (Photo galleries: Dedication | Other seminary photos)

“My greatest wish for our college seminary is that it be a simple and joyful house of prayer,” he said, “and that it be a house where you seminarians and seminarians to come patiently learn to be men of prayer and to do so with a spirit of joy.

“As you live in this former Carmel Monastery of the Resurrection, surely the vestige and the ethos of the Carmelite prayer continues to flow through these corridors.”

Nicholas Brown, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Louisville who is in his second year at Bishop Bruté, said the seminary moving into its new home has brought a “sense of renewal” to their community.

“In a lot of ways, it feels like the seminary has started over this year,” Brown said. “This year is a year of beginnings.”

Part of that beginning at the dedication involved the seminary’s faculty—rector Father Robert Robeson, vice rector Father Paul Etienne and spiritual director Father Daniel Donohoo—making a solemn profession of faith and being installed in their ministry positions.

At the conclusion of the Mass, all present processed through the hallways of the seminary to its courtyard where Archbishop Buechlein prayerfully dedicated the seminary’s new home.

The seminarians moved in about three weeks ago. Father Robeson took up residence at the start of July. But in that short time, he has already come to deeply value the seminary’s new home.

“It is such a holy place, consecrated by the prayers of contemplative nuns for 75 years,” he said. “And it’s a beautiful place. God is beauty. I think aesthetically beautiful buildings like this evoke a deep sense of God’s presence. There are just so many places inside and out around here that are beautiful little corners for prayer and contemplative peace.”

Seminarian Timothy Wyciskalla, a junior at Bishop Bruté, appreciates the beauty that surrounds him, but also feels some responsibility in moving into such a hallowed place.

“We now have [the Carmelites’] legacy to carry on,” said Wyciskalla, a member of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis. “There are statues everywhere and crosses everywhere. You can definitely tell that it was built as a place of prayer.”

Seminarian Daniel Bedel, also a junior at Bishop Bruté, is the guardian in charge of liturgy.

He sees having a place apart from Marian’s campus, where they shared space with hundreds of other students, as a benefit for the seminarians’ prayer and discernment.

“You have a better chance of getting down there [to the chapel] earlier in the morning or late at night, and it’s just you and Jesus, one-on-one,” said Bedel, a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Enochsburg. “For me personally, that one-on-one time is very important.”

While the seminarians are finding lots of places to pray in their new home, they are not finding the housekeeping and cafeteria staff that took care of many of their daily needs when they lived on Marian’s campus.

Father Robeson has appointed Wyciskalla as Bishop Bruté’s other guardian. As such, he makes sure that the grass in the seminary’s courtyard is cut, the hallways, bathrooms and the seminary’s kitchen are kept clean, and that the seminarians have transportation to and from Marian’s campus, where they continue to take classes.

“It definitely gives everybody more of a sense of responsibility,” Wyciskalla said. “Last year, we were on a hallway that belonged to the college. It was a dorm situation. This year, we’re in our own place.

“It’s kind of like we’re at home as opposed to just being in some space the college owns.”

Their home features small rooms for the seminarians, some measuring 8 feet by 8 feet.

But, according to Father Robeson, the seminarians are putting this challenge to their advantage.

“One of the good things about having such small rooms is that guys don’t spend as much time in their rooms,” he said. “They spend more time in the public areas being with one another.”

Father Etienne has been impressed thus far by the seminarians’ transition into their new home.

“They’re taking responsibility for it,” he said. “They’re claiming it as their own. Yeah, there are some challenges in the design of the place. But I think those are some small hurdles for these guys in the overall picture of things.”

As the seminarians processed through the hallways after the dedication Mass and made their way to the seminary’s courtyard, many appreciated the chance to join their prayers to so many archdiocesan priests.

“It’s encouraging,” said Wyciskalla. “But it’s also humbling to see them and the archbishop all come in and dedicate it as a college seminary. These are the people that we aspire to be like and look up to.”

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