Each semester, the seminarians of Conception Seminary College are given a wonderful opportunity to donate a significant amount of money to a charity of their choosing. This money comes from the St. Teresa of Calcutta Fund, which was given to the seminary by an anonymous donor, who wanted to give the seminarians firsthand experience in giving to charities.
This opportunity empowers the seminarians to take a microscope to the social issues. We have to take special care that we choose good causes and real charities. This requires a deliberate process of research and discernment, which is what the donor wanted us to experience.
Being charged as stewards of this great gift, we have to look at what each charity supports, as well as how much of the donation they will actually use for the cause they support, and how much will be directed elsewhere. We also have to look at the needs of our local community and the prevalent needs of the greater society. Only with this knowledge can we make an informed decision together.
The process of research and decision making is given entirely to the seminarians. Each seminarian is asked to do research and submit a charity name and reason for support to the Social Concerns Committee. Through this process, a pool of possible charity recipients is created. The student body then votes on which charities they think ought to be supported, based on the research done by their fellow seminarians. They vote on three charities to fund. In the fall semester, the charities are required to be local, while in the spring semester, the charities selected must be national or global.
Personally, I can attest that this process has done for me what the donor intended it to do. Through my own research and the research of my fellow seminarians, I have come to see many social concerns that I was previously unaware of, and was reminded of others that I had not given much thought to. Additionally, I have been exhilarated and inspired by the many people who give their time and skills to care for those in need.
This process has contributed to my priestly formation by making me more aware of the variety of pastoral needs that affect people, both in the Church and in the world. A priest serving the people of God gives his whole life in charity to serve others. If he can truly see people’s needs and respond to them, then he is better able to pastor his community.
— Robert Blaschke
Archdiocese of Oklahoma City