February 8, 2013

Renovated seminary chapel a ‘study hall’ in which to seek ‘wisdom and light’

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, center, blesses the renovated chapel of Bishop Simon Bruté Seminary in Indianapolis during a Jan. 28 Mass. One feature of the renovated chapel is the altar piece, or reredos, that stands behind the chapel’s altar. The reredos was designed by Eric Atkins, archdiocesan director of management services. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, center, blesses the renovated chapel of Bishop Simon Bruté Seminary in Indianapolis during a Jan. 28 Mass. One feature of the renovated chapel is the altar piece, or reredos, that stands behind the chapel’s altar. The reredos was designed by Eric Atkins, archdiocesan director of management services. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

When Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis began forming men for the priesthood in the fall of 2004 on the campus of Marian University, its enrollment stood at six.

It is now at 33 with seminarians being sent there from nine dioceses across the country. Father Robert Robeson, rector of the seminary, expects enrollment to rise above 40 next year.

The seminary moved in 2008 to the former Carmelite Monastery of the Resurrection, about a mile south of Marian, where seminarians still take classes.

Because of the growth of the seminary, its chapel, which had a seating capacity of 40 people, was renovated last summer. It can now seat 80 people.

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin blessed the renovated chapel during a Jan. 28 Mass at the seminary.

(See a photo gallery from this event)

The Mass took place on the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, the great 13th century Dominican priest who continues to be regarded as one of the Church’s greatest philosophers and theologians.

“The example of Thomas Aquinas can teach you that this chapel is not only a place of worship, where you will be nourished at the table of the Lord’s word and sacrament,” Archbishop Tobin told the assembled seminarians. “It is also a sort of study hall or, if you will, a research laboratory.

“You will need to spend time here, in the presence of our sacramental Lord, to seek the wisdom that will allow you to make the essential connections in your life between what you learn and the living source of wisdom and light.”

In remarks at the end of the Mass, Father Robeson said that the chapel is “the heart and soul of our seminary. (Related: Parish, religious community donate items for Bishop Bruté seminary chapel)

“It is, without question, the most important place in the seminary building,” Father Robeson said. “It is where, through prayer, we encounter the fullness of Jesus Christ’s presence in our life and receive the strength to give ourselves in love to others. It is where we celebrate the Eucharist, which is at the very center of the life for every priest and seminarian. And it is where our seminarians are formed to love, by drawing upon the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.”

Seminarian Timothy DeCrane, a junior at Bishop Bruté, comes to the chapel daily to pray. A member of Most Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Beech Grove, DeCrane sees the expanded chapel as an encouraging sign of growth for the seminary.

“It shows that there are more young men that are zealous and are on fire for their faith,” he said. “They’re willing to look at their faith on a deeper level. It’s so exciting to see that. It gives you the hope that you need.”

Seminarian Anthony Stange, a senior at Bishop Bruté and a member of St. Lawrence Parish in Lawrenceburg, said the expansion of the seminary’s chapel is also a sign of a more hidden growth—the increase in the seminarians’ knowledge of themselves and their love for God.

“It’s been one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” said Stange of his time at the seminary. “The experience of community has taught me so much about myself and helped me to form better relationships with those around me.”

Also attending the chapel blessing were four members of the Monastery of the Resurrection, now living on the grounds of the motherhouse of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Oldenburg.

Carmelite Sister Jean Alice McGoff, the monastery’s prioress, spoke after the Mass about how happy she and other members of the community are about the continuity in the use of their former home.

“It was our great desire that it would be, somehow, a house of prayer,” Sister Jean Alice said. “But it never dawned on us that it could become a seminary. To know that there are people here who value prayer and feel that, somehow, our presence is still here is thrilling.”

Franciscan Sister Jean Marie Cleveland, vice president for mission effectiveness at Marian, also attended the Mass.

“I’m excited that the [seminarians] are at Marian,” Sister Jean Marie said after the Mass. “I see them every year a little more involved with the [other] students. They are learning to work with other young people.”

One person who was not able to attend the blessing Mass, but who was likely on the minds of many present, was Archbishop Emeritus Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, who founded the seminary in 2004.

Archbishop Tobin recently visited him in the infirmary at Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad where Archbishop Buechlein lives and spoke about the visit at the end of the Mass.

“When you speak about this house, his eyes light up,” Archbishop Tobin said. “ … He was grateful to know that his dream continues. In thinking about him earlier today, I thought that he must be like Thomas Aquinas and spent a lot of time before the Lord so that his wonderful vision that would guide the archdiocese would take flesh. And part of the vision is this house, this chapel.”

While the renovation of the chapel was largely completed last summer, work at expanding the seminary’s buildings continues.

Last fall, construction of a new dormitory and dining hall began. When completed, the residence hall will have 10 double occupancy rooms, and the seminary will be able to house 54 seminarians. It is expected that the dormitory and dining hall will be ready for use at the start of the 2013-14 academic year.

The overall cost of the chapel renovation and the current construction project is an estimated $2.4 million.

Approximately $2 million of this was made available through a bequest from the estate of the late James P. Scott, the largest estate gift in the history of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The rest of the $7.5 million Scott gift was used to establish an endowment to support the future ministry of the Church in central and southern Indiana.

Several other donors also contributed to the renovation of the seminary chapel and the construction of its new dormitory and dining hall.

“It’s wonderful to see that people care so deeply about the formation of our priests,” said Father Robeson. “Obviously, people have had good experiences with priests in our archdiocese. We have many good priests. I think that, in a lot of cases, is what leads people to say that they want to help with the formation of our young men who are opening themselves up to the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood.”

(For more information about Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis, log on to www.archindy.org/bsb. For more information about a vocation to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, log on to www.HearGodsCall.com.)

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