Diocese currently has 13 seminarians

CHARLESTON — Thirteen seminarians are studying to become priests in the Diocese of Charleston.

Third-year theology: Philip Gillespie, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md.; Artur Przywara, Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Orchard Lake, Mich.; and Richard Jackson, St. Vincent de Paul Seminary, Boynton Beach, Fla.

Second-year theology: Matthew Gray, Mount St. Mary’s; William Hearne, Blessed John XXIII National Seminary, Weston, Mass.; David Nerbun, Pontifical North American College, Vatican City State; Richard Tomlinson, Pontifical Beda College, Rome.

First-year theology: Mark Good and Jason Oakes, Mount St. Mary’s.

College seminary: Javier Heredia, St. John Vianney Seminary, Miami (third year); Brian Prater (second year) Stephen Beach and Benjamin Novotny (first year) at St. Andrew’s College Seminary, South Orange, N.J.

Deacon Joseph Cahill, director of the Office of Vocations said the South Carolina diocese has started sending seminarians to Mount St. Mary’s this year or to St. Andrew’s in New Jersey, which is affiliated with Seton Hall University.

He said the number of years a seminarian must study depends on how much philosophy he has taken prior to entering the seminary.

A man with no prior philosophy background would study two years of pre-theology and then another four years before being ordained.

Men interested in the priesthood must first contact the office of vocations and speak with Deacon Cahill and Father Richard Harris, administrator for vocations. Then they fill out an application, which includes a 12 to 15 page autobiography; furnish information such as academic transcripts, references and baptismal records; and pass a psychological evaluation before going through a final interview with Father Harris. The diocesan vocations board, which meets quarterly, decides whether or not to recommend candidates.

Deacon Cahill said the candidates are sent to a seminary where they are most likely to be successful.

Artur Przywara is the third diocesan seminarian in recent years to come from Poland. Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Michigan actively recruits candidates from Poland and brings them to the United States to study. Vocations directors from dioceses here visit the seminary to meet students who might be interested in a particular diocese or state.

Deacon Cahill said Catholics need to pray for seminarians, especially during the current priest shortage.

“If you see a young man in Mass frequently, especially daily Mass during the week, take the time to introduce yourself and ask him if he would ever consider the priesthood,” Deacon Cahill said. “We also need people to pray for vocations. It’s a trying time when it comes to vocations.”