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California seminary names new faculty, boosts recruiting

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MENLO PARK, Calif. (CNS) -- St. Patrick's Seminary and University is welcoming five professors and expects to admit as many as 15 new seminarians this fall as the institution's new president-rector reaches out to bishops in several Western states to encourage them to consider the Menlo Park seminary for priestly formation.

In an interview with Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper, Jesuit Father George Schultze, the new president-rector, discussed the details of the seminary's transition under new leadership mix following the May departure of the Society of St. Sulpice, whose priests had served the seminary since it opened in 1891.

Sam Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone named Father Schultze to lead the archdiocese-owned institution in February. His appointment was effective June 1.

The seminary chose the new professors from among 79 applicants including priests, religious and lay academics, Father Schultze said.

"It's a nonstop-and-go situation," he said. "We are just moving forward. The Sulpicians who were leaving participated in interviewing some of the new faculty as well. They want the seminary to be a success."

The new hires include three priests who have served in parish ministry "and support the seminary's goal of fully integrating its programs to ensure that both pastoral and academic needs are well-served," the seminary announced.

The new faculty members are: Dominican Father Michael Carey, associate professor of moral theology; Jeffrey Froula, assistant professor of moral theology; Franciscan Father Khoa Nguyen, assistant director of spiritual life; Father Vito Perrone, a member of the Contemplatives of St. Joseph, director of spiritual life; Dominican Father Pius Pietrzyk, assistant professor of pastoral studies; Matthew Thomas, visiting assistant professor of sacred Scripture; and Margaret Turek, professor of dogmatics and director of the master of arts program.

Ten faculty members planned to return for the 2017-18 academic year.

Father Schultze described the importance of a pastoral approach in the classroom that combines charity and truth.

"The idea of charity and truth, that's what we're about, and sometimes in the pastoral approach in people's minds, you focus on charity without ever having an explanation for what is true, what is right, what is beautiful," he said. "The pastoral approach we have going forward is never devoid of reason, of an intellectual foundation as to why we believe in charity. That is how our faith is lived out in this world.

"We are at the point in our society ... where we should be more vocal," Father Schultze added. "We should share what we believe rather than simply conceding or retreating. Prudence requires courage. Prudence requires saying we know at times it's hard for others to hear, but we're doing this out of love of charity and we're going to do this in a peaceful, generous and good way as fruits of the Holy Spirit."

He said the seminary stands for a consistent ethic of life and "we're not looking for a pharisaical approach."

"We hold to revelation and church doctrine; we recognize and support it," Father Schultze said. "There are not going to be any attempts at political manipulation. It's not an attempt to move people into one camp or another camp but to explain what the church teaches in its fullness."

Father Schultze sees the seminary playing an increasingly active role in the pastoral life of the San Francisco Archdiocese and as a voice in the wider culture. Examples include the seminary's participation in the Walk for Life West Coast and support for the lives of immigrants. Future efforts may include faculty publishing in academic journals so that their teaching reaches a wider public.

Father Schultze also sees give-and-take with the tech and higher education communities in the Bay Area as part of the life of the seminary.

"Our neighbors are venture capitalists who are venturing tremendous sums of capital in the global economy," he said. "Would we not want to have our seminarians or our church in conversation with these? Would they not want to be in conversation with a religion that has over a billion adherents? Of course, we need to have those conversations."

The incoming 2017-18 class includes seminarians from San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Rosa, Korea, Hawaii and Guam. Father Schultze said the new class will maintain St. Patrick's enrollment at between 60 and 64 seminarians.

Developing sustainable enrollment has been a crucial challenge underlined in reports by the accrediting Western Association of Schools and Colleges' Senior College and University Commission. St. Patrick's needs 80 seminarians to meet current costs, according to a March 2016 association report.

"Would we like to have 80? Yes, but it's going to take time," Father Schultze said.

Father Schultze has contacted Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, where the archdiocesan St. John's Seminary has grown enrollment from to 105 from 60 since the archbishop arrived in 2011.

"We both want to grow," Father Schultze said. "California is like a country. We should have two full seminaries. We're not in competition at all."

In a wider recruiting effort, Father Schultze is taking to the road to meet with bishops in Helena, Montana; Seattle; Portland and Baker, Oregon; and Salt Lake City.

Father Schultze stressed that "every Catholic" has to help in promoting vocations, with fewer grandmothers now at hand to play their historic role of transmitting the faith to young men. Age 11 and junior year in high school are the key moments to plant the seed, he said.

"All you need to do is mention, 'Someday you might hear the call,'" he noted.

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DelVecchio is editor and general manager of Catholic San Francisco and executive editor of San Francisco Catolico, the English- and Spanish-language newspapers of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

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