Kenrick-Glennon Seminary enrollment still climbing

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org

Brandon Roth had been attending Kenrick-Glennon Seminary for a week or so, and is glad to be at a place full of men with the same goal — to serve God and His people.

"Everyone is friendly, here to support each other. It's nice to be with all these guys," said Roth, who is from Perryville. He began thinking about the priesthood in his junior year at St. Vincent de Paul High School. He attended Mineral Area College, a two-year community college in Park Hills, before entering the seminary as a sophomore in the Cardinal Glennon College program.

The seminary in Shrewsbury opened for the fall semester with 136 students, about 10 more than the same time last year, which was the highest enrollment in 15 years. Enrollment at the seminary to begin each school year bounced between 91 and 112 from 1999 to 2005 before hitting a low of 76 in 2006. It has been on the rise ever since, dipping slightly only in a couple of years.

Fifty seminarians are from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, an increase of four from last year. Twenty-four are in the Cardinal Glennon College undergraduate program and 26 are in the Kenrick Seminary School of Theology.

Chris Smith, a first-year pre-theology student who is new to the seminary, said "it's easy to feed off the energy" of the other seminarians.

Smith worked as a pharmacist for six years after attending St. Louis College of Pharmacy. He had attended Francis Howell Central High School and was a member of St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville. The call to the priesthood was one he'd been hearing for a while, so he decided it was time to follow it. He's enjoyed meeting men from various backgrounds and noted that "I'm sure the friendships will serve me the rest of my life."

Adam Pleimann, a parishioner at Queen of All Saints in Oakville and an Oakville High School graduate, is a freshman at Cardinal Glennon College. He cited the fraternal feeling that has developed in the short time he's been there. Ben Trull of Cure of Ars Parish in Shrewsbury and also a Cardinal Glennon freshman, referred to the experience of living in community as being a "re-living of the apostolic community."

George Rhodes of Kansas City, Kan., a freshman at Cardinal Glennon, said an active and full community adds to the atmosphere required in being formed for the priesthood. Making such a commitment with one's peers helps in the process of discernment, he said

"Like the 12 Apostles, we're being formed to go out and spread the Word," he said.

Work was recently finished on a renovation of the 82-year-old seminary, including an upgrade to the old infrastructure, new safety systems and better accessibility. The project was funded by the "Faith for the Future" campaign, which was launched in 2009 to provide immediate funding for the updates and to increase an endowment for future needs.

The seminary is near capacity, with six guest rooms available for visiting students. A contingency plan exists in case the seminary exceeds capacity someday.

Fifteen students from religious orders attend the seminary but don't live there.

The archdiocesan Office of Vocations, led by Father Christopher Martin, hosts various activities throughout the year — such as Come and See weekends and Kenrick-Glennon Days — for young men discerning a vocation to the priesthood. For information, visit www.archstl.org/vocations. 

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