I was ordained in 1952. Our class had 50 priests ordained for the Archdiocese of Chicago.
For many years the Church was in a defensive mode due to the revolutions of the 16th and 17th centuries. The Church was apart from the world.
Seminaries always reflected the Church and its mission. Therefore, their training has always been apart from the world. Seminary buildings were far from the world, and traditional theology and programs reflected the distance. Criteria for ordination were spiritual readiness, academic competence and obedience to seminary rules. Seminarians were kept apart from each other, since silence was required in residence buildings.
I was appointed rector of the major seminary in 1965, the year Vatican II ended. The Council changed the way the Church saw itself. Instead of being apart from the world, it saw itself in dialogue with and in service to the world.
Vatican II also challenged seminaries to change. Theology was to have a pastoral dimension. Sacred Scripture was to be read through modern literary expertise. Programs and expectations were to be related to parishes. Input from parishes were to be part of evaluation for ordination.
Seminarians lived in a “camarata,” or a group, and were to have regular meetings. They shared their experiences with each other. A parish priest, who was trained in group dynamics, lived with them. They no longer lived APART from each other.
Our seminary continues to grow and develop with the spirit of Vatican II through competent and dedicated leadership. They are certainly all in our prayers.