September 30, 2011

Archbishop’s legacy includes establishing Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary

Criterion staff report

Daniel Elsener still remembers the conversations with Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein.

The idea to establish a college seminary in collaboration with Marian University in Indianapolis started when Elsener began his tenure as president of the school in August of 2001, and continued for a time.

“He [the archbishop] said, ‘Let’s quit talking and let’s do it,’ ” Elsener recalled.

“We had a little conversation around our dining room table at the Allison Mansion where my office is,” he said. “He brought a couple of his top advisers, I had a couple of my provosts, and he said, ‘Let’s go. Let’s get it started.’ ”

Under Archbishop Buechlein’s leadership, the archdiocese opened Bishop Simon Bruté House of Formation on the campus of then Marian College in 2004 to prepare college seminarians for major seminary studies.

In 2008, the archdiocese purchased the facilities and 17 acres belonging to the Carmel of the Resurrection, a community of Carmelite nuns, located a mile south of Marian University, and relocated the college seminary there.

The archdiocesan college seminary has since reached its capacity, and plans are under way to expand in the future to meet the growing demand.

“He had confidence in Marian [to help with the intellectual formation],” Elsener said.

“He brought in wonderful people to run it.”

Father Robert Robeson, rector of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary, said Archbishop Buechlein played an integral role in the seminary’s success.

“I think his vision was quite incredible, envisioning the opportunity for success in establishing a seminary here in Indianapolis in conjunction with Marian University,” said Father Robeson, who was ordained by Archbishop Buechlein in 2003. “I think he has a special place in his heart for seminarians, and these young men who are really giving up much in order to discern and discover whether or not God is calling them to be priests.

“His leadership will be an important legacy,” the seminary rector said. “And it’s a legacy that serves the region. It’s larger than just our archdiocese.”

Archdiocesan seminarian Daniel Bedel, who is in formation for the priesthood at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, said in a telephone interview that Archbishop Buechlein’s “connection with seminarians is amazing.

“He went out of his way to get to know each one of us personally,” said Bedel, who received priestly formation at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary from 2006-10.

“… He is a very holy man, a man of prayer, an excellent person of the Gospel.”

Msgr. William Stumpf, moderator of the archdiocesan curia, said the archbishop will continue to nurture vocations in retirement.

“He’s going to be so good for our seminarians down there, not just the seminarians from the archdiocese, but all the seminarians that are at Saint Meinrad,” Msgr. Stumpf said. “I think he’ll be a great witness to them, and I think he’ll be inspiring to them.”

After the Sept. 21 press conference announcing his retirement, Archbishop Buechlein said that he is looking forward to spending time with the seminarians at Saint Meinrad as he did when he served as president and rector there from August 1971 until March 1987.

“I look forward to being with them,” he said. “They give me a lot of life, and I will help them as best I can. I have a lot of experience working with seminarians.”

(Editor Mike Krokos, senior reporter Mary Ann Garber and reporter Sean Gallagher contributed to this story.)

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