Donor-driven renovation project provides seminarians a ‘welcoming’ space
By Jeff Miller
Special to The Texas Catholic
IRVING — Note from the 32 returning residents of Holy Trinity Seminary to the administration: Love what you’ve done with the place.
The first-ever major renovation of the 54-year-old living quarters was completed this summer, much to the delight of the seminarians.
“It was a real blessing,” said Joseph Font, 22, beginning his third year at Holy Trinity. “It was definitely a needed change.”
“We’re very thankful,” said Wesley Castañeda, 24, starting his second year. “You could tell the rooms were very dated.”
Dated in that carpeting was coming loose in spots, lighting was sometimes inadequate and furniture had been purchased when Lyndon Johnson occupied the White House.
That’s no longer the case thanks to $800,000 worth of updating and improvements to 82 dorm rooms plus to bathrooms and hallways made possible by dozens of generous contributors. Consider one of the “modern conveniences” that’s now a part of each single-occupant dorm room — a ceiling fan.
“The donors are the champions here in many ways,” said Father Vincent Anyama, who became the seminary’s vice-rector this summer after serving in the same role at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston for the past two years.
While he’s new to the seminary administration, he knows of what he speaks when it comes to the living environment; he’s a member of Holy Trinity’s class of 2004, ordained in 2009.
Father Anyama recently took a peek at his old room.
“Compared to what it looks like currently, it is day and night!” he said with a laugh. “This is quite stellar.”
This fall, 16 newcomers bring the total enrollment at Holy Trinity to 48 seminarians from eight dioceses. Their classes at the adjoining University of Dallas began Aug. 25.
Castañeda, from Greenville, said the biggest difference in the dorm rooms is the laminate flooring that replaced the original carpeting.
“It feels more comfortable being there,” he said. “More cozy. More welcoming.”
“It’s definitely a place of rest,” said Font, who attended the same Catholic high school in Colorado Springs as did Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly — who’s in residence at Holy Trinity. “It’s so nice to have something to come back to. ‘OK, this is my space. I can decompress and kind of let go.’ ”
“Space matters in formation,” said Father Anyama, whose family moved from Nigeria to Dallas about a year before he entered the seminary. “Think of the churches that we’ve built. The way we build our churches contributes to the liturgical activity and shapes the way that we actually worship.
“The rooms, the space of the living quarters for the men is very critical also in their own formation as residents. If the lighting is not well done, it has an ulterior affect, the way it shapes the hearts of the men.”
Among the major donors were Susan and Pat Bresnahan, who are longtime parishioners at Prince of Peace in Plano and have attended Masses at the seminary and also ate breakfasts there with the residents.
“It just kind of pulls and tugs at my heartstrings that these men are giving their lives to Christ,” Pat Bresnahan said. “For them to have a nice place to stay in their rooms is just the least of what we could do for them.”