One of the “Kingdom advancing” entities listed under the ‘Catalog of Ministries’ on the website of the National Catholic Community Foundation (www.nccfcommunity.org) is the Assumption Seminary of San Antonio, Texas (www.assumptionseminary.org). Reaching back over 90 years into its days as St. John’s Seminary Assumption can claim over 500 ordained alumni among its graduates, including 12 bishops. But, just in the past 13 years, that is since the millennial year of 2000, 110 men trained in this center of vibrancy have been ordained, men prepared for the ministerial priesthood in Texas and, as its website says, ‘far beyond.’
Those among us who sense the Church in the United States is moribund in our secular ‘post modern,’ ‘post rational,’ ‘post Christian’ world can only wonder what is happening here.
Rooted in the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II the education provided by Assumption is defined by four “pillars” of formation: the human, the spiritual, the academic and the pastoral. This education is fortified (and with others I would say ‘blessed’) by theological training at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio.
A distinguishing feature of Assumption is its emphasis on multicultural formation. Demographers predict that in a decade or so the majority of Catholic Americans will be of Hispanic dissent and the Church in our country will need priests and other men and women consecrated to the religious life who are comfortable within a variety of cultures. Assumption prepares its priests for this multicultural immersion.
The term multiculturalism can be problematic. As citizen of a republic where we respect ‘E Pluribus Unum’ we accept and even welcome an ever bubbling stew of different cultures. The risk, of course, is that in a society where polite tolerance can easily become intolerant political correctness all beliefs are expected to be given the same degree of credence and respect. Hence the value of one’s belief in the existence of God is as ‘valid’ as the disbelief of another’s atheism and everyone, including the believer and the disbeliever, is expected to treat honor the belief and disbelief equally.
But, within a Catholic context – that is the context of a universal Church – multiculturalism is fertile ground for ecclesiological enrichment. And, the Church in the United States may be the stage on which this exciting encounter is most visibly and effectively occurring. Those of us of German, Irish, Italian, Polish and French descent – even those few from English Catholics – should welcome this infusion of the Spirit in our mainstream liturgical life. We’ve done it before with each other. Now, let us do it with those brought to the faith a half a millennium ago by the ‘Virgen de Guadalupe.’
Assumption Seminary, not insignificantly named in honor of the Blessed Mother, is a center of cultural immersion that produces champions in ministry collaboration. Surely without them the advance of the Kingdom would be difficult.