ST. JOHN VIANNEY
In this year of the priesthood, St. John Vianney, the humble pastor (Cure in French) remains a terrific example of the hard-working parish priest and is both a strong and appropriate image for today’s parish priests. His superiors thought that young John did not have the intellectual goods to ever be a good priest but how wrong they were. People flocked from all over France to have their confessions heard by the saintly Cure of Ars in this small town in the eastern mountains of France.
He comes to mind because this week-end the College seminary which we use for our men’s college and philosophy formation is celebrating its 50th anniversary of establishment. It is St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, established by the late first bishop of Miami, Coleman F. Carroll one year after the establishment of the diocese in 1958. He asked the Vincentian Fathers to come and staff and run what was then a four year high school and a two year college program. They remained until 1974 at which time the high school program was dropped and St. John Vianney became a strictly four-year college seminary with a major focus on philosophy. Many of the priests ordained for this diocese did their college and philosophy studies at “SJV”.
In 1974 Monsignor John Nevins (later the bishop of Venice) was asked by Archbishop Carroll to administer the College as the fourth Rector/President which he did until 1979 when the newly ordained Father Robert Lynch became its fifth Rector. The seminary grew in both numbers and seriousness necessitating a period of expansion including a new library. The grounds of the College Seminary are extraordinarily beautiful and the Chapel remains one of the most beautiful worship spaces in the south.
There has been a succession of fine leadership and a very capable faculty of lay, religious and priests have guided our young men appropriately through the path of discernment which should appropriately mark the formative college years. This year, thank God, under the capable guidance of its present Rector, Monsignor Michael Carruthers, St. John Vianney College seminary on Saturday pauses to thank God for fifty years of blessings through difficult and challenging times to its largest enrollment in its history since dropping the high school, eighty seminarians. Many of them are studying for the Church of St. Petersburg. Yet another disappointment arising from my slow recovery from the summer is that I will not be present to celebrate this special moment but at home on Saturday I will offer my private Mass of Thanksgiving for the gift of St. John Vianney in my life. Congratulations SJV! Ad multos annos!