Seminarians relocated to Charleston will pray for the diocese

CHARLESTON—Pandemic school closures aren’t just for kids. College students have had to make an exodus back home thanks to the coronavirus, and that includes our seminarians.

Five of the Diocese of Charleston’s seminarians will live in a house together, study and pray for S.C. Catholics while their seminaries are closed.

Father Matthew Gray said that Justin Damask, Raphael Ghattas, Michael Ghattas, Erik Roman and Nicholas Shiver are in town and living in a house provided by the diocese. It is located West of the Ashley. Father Gray is vicar and director of vocations for the diocese.

“We wanted those seminarians to have a place where they can continue their formation and do academics online,” he said. “We were going to send them home to their own parishes, but decided that since Masses were canceled, we would set up a house of formation.”

The seminarians attend St. Mary’s in Houston and Holy Trinity in Dallas. Their new existence will resemble life in the seminary while fostering greater fraternity. In addition to studying and taking care of the house, the men will receive sacraments, attend daily Mass and holy hours, and pray for the people of the diocese.

“We are also going to minister to the neighborhood,” said Father Gray. “We will be checking on people and may be doing some eucharistic processions.”

The seminarians are going to serve at daily Masses, which will be live-streamed along with rosaries and holy hours, “so the people of the diocese can see the seminarians praying for them,” Father Gray explained.

“It’s an interesting situation to find ourselves in,” he said. “We don’t have seminary in the diocese but so much can be done online now. They don’t have to actually be in their seminary but that is ideal. We are providing them with the best spiritual formation we can.”

Three other seminarians were able to continue formation indefinitely at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, located in Boynton Beach, Fla., thanks to an invitation of its rector, Msgr. David Toups. They are Paul Lacombe, Pedro Silva and Reyes Palomares.

Check in on the seminarians with livestream Mass, weekdays Monday-Saturday at 8:30 a.m., plus Stations of the Cross on Fridays at 3 p.m., at