How do you form a happy, holy, and well-educated priest? That’s the mission of Borromeo Seminary and St. Mary’s Seminary, under the leadership of Fr. Mark Latcovich. As rector, he guides seminarians through a process that for some men begins with college courses at Borromeo (including many at John Carroll University) followed by a five-year program on the graduate level in Theology at St. Mary’s.
“Formation is based on four pillars – human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral,” explains Fr. Latcovich. “A man coming in at 18 has to embrace these four dimensions to help him mature. At the graduate level, he goes deeper, and by his last year at Saint Mary’s, he hopefully integrates all those aspects into his life.” During the final year, seminarians are ordained as transitional deacons and assigned to a parish on weekends. The “pastoral pillar” comes front and center, as seminarians begin to experience life in ordained ministry by assisting in liturgies and preaching homilies as they prepare for priesthood.
Patrick Schultz is one of five seminarians to be ordained in May 2016. “Now things get very practical – we learn how to hear confessions, anoint the sick, plan and do baptisms, marriage prep and counseling. You’re not playing dress-up any more, you’re doing the real thing!”
Support systems become critical, as Fr. Latcovich cites this as a key advantage of a diocesan seminary. “Studies show what keeps a man a priest. If a diocese has its own seminary, a man develops critical support systems not only with his family, but with priests and lay people they come to know.”
After 25 years of working in the seminary, Fr. Latcovich sees a new trend toward younger men entering right out of high school or college, with about five men being ordained each year. “They’re very altruistic and want to make a difference in the world. They love and value what the Church offers society.” He also sees a sense of gratitude among seminarians who appreciate support for room and board, tuition, and mission trips.
“I have immense gratitude to the people who make herculean sacrifices for us to study in the diocese,” says Patrick Schultz. “It’s a very expensive endeavor and expresses the Church’s desire to have good and holy priests. We are transformed by the love of Jesus and then go out and serve the very people who supported us.”