By Seth Gonzales
The Texas Catholic
More than 800 attendees filled the Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Anatole on October 20 for the 2017 Spes Gregis seminarian dinner for Holy Trinity Seminary’s 50 years of educating seminarians for the Diocese of Dallas, as well as dioceses across the United States.
Bishop Edward J. Burns delivered the keynote address and said the education and formation of seminarians is familiar territory for him as past rector of St. Paul Seminary in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. He lauded the seminarians in attendance for their courage to answer the call to the priestly vocation.
“All the men who are present here today, we need you,” Bishop Burns said. “There is a lot of work for you. We are so grateful that God has called you and we want to support you in your priestly vocation.”
Part of that support includes funding for structural upgrades and additions to the seminary building. Holy Trinity is currently in the midst of a capital campaign to build the Cardinal Farrell Student Center, a brand new wing of the seminary that will house a gymnasium, fitness center, classrooms, student lounge and patio.
Holy Trinity Seminary rector Father James Swift said he is enthusiastic about the current crop of seminarians and hopes Catholics in the Diocese of Dallas will see just how far Holy Trinity has come in 50 years
“(The seminarians) are at a wonderful time in their life,” Father Swift said. “They’re learning what it is to become an adult, about their own masculinity and they’re learning about their love for Jesus and his calling to them to this vocation.”
Twenty-one of the 61 seminarians currently studying at Holy Trinity Seminary are from the Diocese of Dallas. Nine other sponsoring dioceses have sent their seminarians to Holy Trinity.
Recalling a difficult era in the Diocese of Dallas when the sex abuse crisis damaged the relationship between the church and its flock, Bishop Burns said he remains committed to “ensure (seminarians) possess a psycho-social, sexual maturity and in that, recognize a wholesomeness, a sense of knowing themselves in answering God’s call to serve his people.”
Bishop Burns is currently chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Child and Youth Protection, and served as a member of a Vatican delegation that made an apostolic visitation to all US seminaries in 2005.
“We recognize that the men who are in seminary now, they weren’t part of the problem but they sure want to be part of the solution on how to restore trust and rebuild credibility within the Church,” Bishop Burns said.
The current quality and quantity of seminarians, Bishop Burns said, should serve as a motivator for Catholics to be generous in their support for Holy Trinity.
“All these years, we have been praying to the Lord of the harvest to send us laborers, and now our God is giving us laborers,” Bishop Burns said. “Woe to us, if we do not provide for them.”