St. Joseph House of Formation seminarians take a road trip to visit two major seminaries

Grant Husling, Peter Bergkamp, Nicholas Samsel, and Joseph Mick pose in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis during a seminary visitation road trip in February. (Courtesy photo)

The four seminarians graduating from the St. Joseph House of Formation will be moving into somewhat familiar surroundings in the fall.

Peter Bergkamp, Grant Husling, Joseph Mick, and Nicholas Samsel took a road trip Feb. 19-23 with Fr. Michael Simone to Kenrick–Glennon Seminary in St. Louis and Mundelein Seminary in Chicago to familiarize themselves with the seminaries at which they will continue their theological studies. Fr. Simone is director of the St. Joseph House of Formation.

The four men will complete their work at Newman University in Wichita this year while at the St. Joseph House of Formation, located on the St. Joseph Parish Campus in Wichita. The four will graduate from NU with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and will begin studying for master’s degrees in theology at Kenrick or Mundelein.

Bergkamp, a member of St. Anthony Parish in Garden Plain, said the foursome toured both seminaries. “And the guys – the theologians – showed us around town.”

Men visit St. Louis basilica

One of the stops in St. Louis was the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. “It’s the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said. “It’s incredible.”

Deacon Chris Rumback, a member of St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Hutchinson and a student at Kenrick who assists at the basilica, gave the four visitors a behind-the-scenes tour. The four seminarians also visited the Gateway Arch but were unable to ascend to the top but because of the limited number of tickets available due to pandemic restrictions. They also visited The Hill, a St. Louis Italian-American neighborhood with restaurants, family-owned delis, sandwich shops, and bakeries.

Stopped in Springfield, Illinois

After a private Mass Sunday, Feb. 21, the men left for Mundelein and stopped in Springfield, Illinois, to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and pass through Bishop Carl A. Kemme’s stomping grounds. Bishop Kemme served as a priest in the Diocese of Springfield before being named bishop of the Diocese of Wichita.

“After we got to Chicago we toured Mundelein and hung out with the guys,” Bergkamp said. “They brought in deep-dish pizza and we caught up with each other a little bit.”

While in Chicago the seminarians visited the Art Institute of Chicago and saw a traveling Monet exhibition.

The four were happy to finally get to see the two seminaries.

Pandemic changed plans

“Ideally this trip would have happened in the fall,” he said, “but we were in quarantine. Normally we would go on this trip not knowing which seminary we would be attending. This allowed us to see the personality of the seminary, you might say, and you meet some of the guys from our diocese and see how they fit in with all the other guys.”

Bergkamp said you get a voice in a preference but that Bishop Kemme decides which seminary they will attend.

He said he and Nicholas Samsel will study at Kenrick and Joseph Mick and Grant Huslig will go to Mundelein.

The visit will minimize the transfer shock, Bergkamp said.

“The major seminary is going to be completely different than the House because it’s so much smaller,” he said. “And so the trip was really helpful.”