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Diocese Now Using Wadhams Hall Seminary

This year, for the first time, the Arlington Diocese has enrolled three of its 41 seminarians — Jae In Yang, Josh Long and Joseph Kwiatkowski — at Wadhams Hall Seminary College in Ogdensburg, N.Y. "In my five-year experience as the Diocesan Bishop of Ogdensburg (1994-99), I became convinced that Wadhams Hall is a hidden gem in the North Country," said Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde. "Now, more than ever ,Wadhams Hall is needed to form students for theological studies and eventual ordination to the priesthood. All the research recently conducted on contemporary seminary life has shown that a solid formation for priestly life and ministry cannot be done in merely four years. More time is needed to prepare a student properly, and a college seminary gives a person an opportunity to begin that preparation in a structured yet welcoming atmosphere. This is all the more true within a freestanding, four-year college seminary such as Wadhams Hall." Wadhams Hall is a 78-year-old, independent, freestanding, four-year, accredited liberal arts college and pre-theologate for men discerning a vocation to the priesthood. The school’s undergraduate curriculum leads to a bachelor’s degree with a major in philosophy. The 20 students enrolled at Wadhams Hall receive individual attention. The rural location along the scenic St. Lawrence River offers camping and skiing in the Adirondack Mountains, as well as access to music, drama, professional sports and urban life in Ottawa and Montreal. The college is "very structured, but not rigid," said rector Msgr. Robert H. Aucoin. Wadhams Hall strives to contribute to each student’s intellectual development in the liberal arts tradition, personal development as a human being, spiritual development and vocational discernment and commitment as a potential Catholic priest or leader in other Church ministries. "I have found the seminary’s daily schedule to be supportive as it helps me to provide the appropriate balance among many diverse, yet important aspects of everyday life. Wadhams’ academic program has been challenging," said seminarian Long. According to Msgr. Aucoin, there is a "strong effort" to develop community life at Wadhams Hall. The college community revolves around liturgical worship. "There is a strong sense of fraternity among my brother seminarians. Although each of us has a different personality, there is a certain bond between all of us … this bond finds its roots in the common prayer of the Church’s liturgy for which we gather together each day," said Long. Students meet regularly with two directors: a spiritual director and a formation adviser. Each seminarian chooses a spiritual director to review his spiritual growth and offer help with prayer, meditation on Scripture, spiritual reading, discerning a vocation and growth in Christian living. Four retreats and days of recollection are scheduled annually. One faculty member, a religious, helps students develop writing skills. "The priesthood is a verbal occupation," said Msgr. Aucoin. Because words and communication are vital skills in pastoral work, seminarians’ written papers are carefully reviewed, he said. Students participate one afternoon each week in Wadhams Hall’s Community Service Program. They may tutor prisoners in a local state prison, work with adolescents at a psychiatric center or assist the handicapped who run a bottle recycling facility. Seminarian Long tutors prison inmates in third- and fourth-grade level math and reading skills. "Wadhams’ community service/volunteer program helps the seminarian to minister to others in the spirit of the Gospel and provides invaluable practice for future priestly ministry," said Long. The social justice program at Wadhams Hall is closely tied to community service and includes prayer, visiting speakers and volunteering in a local soup kitchen. Each year seminarians participate in the local Crop Walk, which raises money to help the hungry. Msgr. Aucoin said seminarians also participate in diocesan activities, especially those held at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Ogdensburg. Recently, seminarians traveled 60 miles to take part in a Festival of Faith. Father Curtis Clark, director of the diocesan Office of Vocations, said that as Bishop of Ogdensburg, Bishop Loverde lived "right down the street from Wadhams Hall. It is a place that Bishop Loverde knows very well. The bishop has trust in the faculty." Bishop Loverde visited the students at Wadhams Hall at least once a month, was "very involved in the seminary" and knew the seminarians individually, said Msgr. Aucoin. "I am convinced that the solidly balanced formation given at Wadhams Hall will provide a valuable preparation for our seminarians from the Arlington Diocese. Interacting with seminarians from other dioceses in both the United States and Canada will enable them to taste a bit more of the Church’s universality. Moreover, the vibrant faith and sense of Church, already evident in our seminarians, will, in turn, enrich those they meet on this journey of formation at Wadhams Hall. Their future lives and ministry as priests will be all the stronger and richer for having experienced their college formation at Wadhams Hall Seminary-College. During my five years as Bishop of Ogdensburg, Wadhams Hall was my ‘pride and joy.’ It continues to hold a special place in my mind and heart," said Bishop Loverde. Men interested in the priesthood are invited to spend a Quest Weekend at Wadhams Hall. The weekend includes workshops on vocations, prayer and discussions with seminarians and faculty. Prospective seminarians who are interested in attending a Quest Weekend should consult their diocesan vocations director. Students should be sponsored by a diocese, said Msgr. Aucoin. How students are assigned to seminaries varies among dioceses, he said. Men can sign up for Quest Weekend at the Wadhams Hall Web site (www. wadhams.edu). Upcoming weekends are Nov. 2-4, 2001, March 15-17, 2002, and Nov. 8-10, 2002. According to Msgr. Aucoin, the Quest Weekend in March is held on the seminary’s Family Day, when the local community joins students’ families in a celebration, St. Joseph’s Table.

Copyright ?2001 Arlington Catholic Herald.  All rights reserved.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2001