Seminarian Sam Brand talks about how the Diocese of Wichita is blessed with so many seminarians
By Sam Brand
The Catholic Diocese of Wichita has had about 45 seminarians each year for the past five years. This statistic astounds about everybody that I meet. They ask questions like, “What does the diocese do? How do we recruit? Where do they come from?”
Having been a seminarian for the Diocese of Wichita for five years I am asked these questions a lot and I could offer many possible answers. The first of which is always “by God’s blessing.” It is the first answer because a call to the priesthood is foremost a gift that both the seminarian and the people receive from God.
Other answers I offer are: “Our parishes constantly praying for vocations; a succession of bishops that have highly supported vocations; we have many priests who are great role models; a large number of our parishes have Eucharistic adoration chapels; and, the people of God are generous enough to pay for our education which gives us a greater freedom when discerning the call.”
Truth be told, the call to the priesthood – after God – comes from the family. It takes no great feat to nurture a vocation to the priesthood other than being a normal, healthy, supportive, Catholic family. This is something, I believe, the families in Wichita have done very well.
The passing on of the faith to their children is important and is as easy as taking them to Mass every Sunday and placing them in Catholic school or a parish religion program.
In the Diocese of Wichita, 70 percent of our seminarians graduated from Catholic schools and all four of our Catholic high schools have seminarian alumni. That data is a testament to how well our schools have passed on the faith in Wichita.
Still, more than anything, the most important aspect of this family support comes from the parents themselves. No matter how much young men pretend to be strong and individualistic, they still want the approval and support of their parents for their endeavors. Will they go without it? Sometimes, but it is much more difficult.
It’s so disheartening when I hear stories about a seminarian whose own family is an adversary to his desire to discover God’s will for him. It’s understandable because it is a sacrifice for us, and on their part, but we will always be grateful for the sacrifices they make and the support they give. Many of our seminarians attribute their parents as reasons for why they entered seminary in the first place.
For some, like myself, our parents were one of the first to suggest that we might have this vocation. My dad shook my hand on the first day of seminary and told me, “Do your best” and “If it doesn’t work out then come home.”
He was very open to the possibility of my becoming a priest and it made my decision so much easier, as was the same for many of my seminarian brothers. By the sacrifice and support of our families, we are exponentially unrestricted to respond with a “yes” to God’s invitation.
Where do seminarians come from? Ultimately any vocation is a gift from God to the church family and it is also a gift of the family to God.