September 19, 2014

‘A house of joy’: Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary celebrates 10 years of priestly formation

Father Martin Rodriguez, associate pastor of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, chats with Bishop Paul D. Etienne of Cheyenne, Wyo., on Sept. 8 on the grounds of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the seminary’s founding. Father Rodriguez is a graduate of the seminary. Bishop Etienne served as a vice rector of the seminary while a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Father Martin Rodriguez, associate pastor of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, chats with Bishop Paul D. Etienne of Cheyenne, Wyo., on Sept. 8 on the grounds of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the seminary’s founding. Father Rodriguez is a graduate of the seminary. Bishop Etienne served as a vice rector of the seminary while a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

In the fall of 2004, Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary began with six seminarians living on one wing of a dormitory on the campus of Marian University in Indianapolis.

On Sept. 8, approximately 230 people gathered on the grounds of a former Carmelite monastery that the seminary has called its home since 2008 to celebrate the many ways in which the seminary has grown over its first decade.

That growth was on display in the presence of the 42 seminarians from eight dioceses and archdioceses currently enrolled at the seminary.

Father Robert Robeson, Bishop Bruté’s rector since its founding, recalled during remarks made during the gala dinner how Archbishop Emeritus Daniel M. Buechlein first asked him to lead the fledgling seminary.

“I looked at him and said, ‘I don’t know the first thing about doing that,’ ” Father Robeson said. “His response to me was typical for Archbishop Buechlein. It was, ‘You’ll figure it out.’ And with the help of a lot of people, we figured it out. And it’s been a beautiful 10 years for me. It’s been amazing.”

Archbishop Buechlein, who lives in retirement at Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, was unable to attend the celebration. However, he recorded a message for the event that was played in the seminary’s dining hall, which is named in his honor.

“To you seminarians, students at [Bishop] Bruté, congratulations on this anniversary,” said Archbishop Buechlein. “My thanks to you, for you have indeed become a house of joy, a happy community, a community fueled by joy and the happiness that comes from living a true human life made so by being grounded in faith, charity and hope.”

Among those who attended the anniversary celebration who helped Father Robeson and the seminarians build up the seminary over the years was Bishop Paul D. Etienne of Cheyenne, Wyo., a former priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and vice rector of the seminary.

He spoke afterward of the importance of Bishop Bruté and the perspective on the seminary that his nearly five years of life and ministry as a bishop have given him.

“To be able to have a seminary and have such a direct hand in the formation of your future priests is a real gift,” said Bishop Etienne. “Archbishop Buechlein really gave this archdiocese that gift by desiring to have such a formation program and creating a culture within the archdiocese to continually attract future seminarians and future priests.

“The formation of our future priests is critically important. As a bishop, I appreciate that even more now than I did as a [former archdiocesan] vocations director or even as a vice rector.”

The anniversary celebration took place on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin reflected in his remarks on how the seminary is like a mother, comparing it to Mary, the Mother of God, and the Church, which cares for the faithful as a mother.

“Just as the Church as a mother has to provide nourishment, God’s word and the sacraments of life, so the mother that is Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary has provided ministers to do the mother’s work, to help the Church nourish her children,” Archbishop Tobin said.

“Archbishop Daniel’s vision for this mother was on full display last June in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral when four men were ordained as priests for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. They were all graduates of this mother, Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary and Marian University.”

One of those priests is Father Benjamin Syberg, associate pastor of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis. He spoke during the celebration and praised the way in which Father Robeson has cared for the many seminarians who have been formed for the priesthood at Bishop Bruté, including nine priests and two transitional deacons.

“I know that today Bishop Bruté, our patron, looks down on you and is so proud of the work you have done,” said Father Syberg. “And I know that the woman in your life, the Blessed Mother, is equally proud of you as her son and as her instrument here at Bruté. And as your former seminarian, I want to say, ‘Thank you for being my rector, my pastor, my supervisor, and now as my senior priest and my friend and my big brother.’ ”

Throughout the first 10 years of the life of Bishop Bruté, its seminarians have received intellectual formation for the priesthood through classes taken at Marian University. Their spiritual, pastoral and human formation takes place at the seminary.

Franciscan Sister Jean Marie Cleveland, Marian’s vice president for mission effectiveness, attended the anniversary celebration and praised the relationship the seminary and university have fostered over the past decade.

“I think it’s been important,” said Sister Jean Marie. “Marian has a mission to educate young people for the service of the Church and the world. This is certainly a way to do that. And I really like the fact that the seminarians are going to school with regular college students … that they’ll be dealing with in parishes.”

Also attending the anniversary celebration were many Catholics from the archdiocese and beyond who have supported Bishop Bruté over its first decade through advice and financial contributions.

To foster and broaden this support in the years to come, two initiatives were announced during the celebration.

The first was the establishment of the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary Annual Fund, a fundraising effort by the seminary to support the seminarians’ formation, room and board and the day-to-day expenses of the seminary.

Major contributors to the fund will be honored by being inducted as members of the Bishop Simon Bruté Society.

Supporters of the seminary can also contribute to the Bishop Simon Bruté Seminary Endowment, managed by the archdiocesan Catholic Community Foundation.

During the celebration, Archbishop Tobin announced that contributions up to $50,000 over each of the next two years will be doubled through a gift made to the archdiocese by the late Father Elmer Burwinkel, an archdiocesan priest who died on Feb. 18.

“We give glory to God tonight for the wonderful fruit that is yet to be realized because of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary,” said Archbishop Tobin. “Men are still being called to the priesthood, as they were in the past. And they still need support because none of us who receives the gift of holy orders ever makes it there on our own. We count on the help of others.”
 

(For more information about the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary Annual Fund, contact Rosemary O’Brien at 800-383-9836, ext. 1568, 317-236-1568 or robrien@archindy.org, or Anne Shea at 317-924-4100 or ashea@archindy.org. For more information about the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary Endowment, contact Ellen Brunner at 800-382-9836, ext. 1427, 317-236-1427 or ebrunner@archindy.org.)

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