Time capsule buried at Seminary closing Mass

See you, God willing, on August 26, 2013.

That’s when the contents of a time capsule buried at the Regional Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs, St Augustine will be opened.

Msgr Llanos covers the buried capsule with dirt. Looking on are Msgr Stewart and student Renee Hall.

Towards the end of a Mass to close the 2009/2010 academic year, rector Msgr Michael Stewart and vice rector Msgr Robert Llanos placed the capsule in a wooden box and plastic bag and buried it under the majestic flamboyant tree near the entrance. A plaque was placed to commemorate the occasion.

Student Renee Hall told Catholic News the capsule contains the hopes, dreams, thoughts and feelings of students for the future of the seminary, using the imagery of the ancient, mythical Greek firebird known as the Phoenix. The exercise was done on the final day of the semester.

The outdoor Mass was held near the entrance; the congregation of ancillary and administrative staff, academic faculty, laity, “Friends of the Seminary”, religious and a few priests sat under and around the tree. Main celebrant was Archbishop Donald Reece, president of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC). Fifteen priests concelebrated including Msgr Urban Peschier, one of the Seminary’s first graduates.

Transitional deacon Rev Sendric Simon of the diocese of Willemstad, Curaçao, proclaimed the Gospel. Joining him in assisting Archbishop Reece were fellow deacons Rev Curtis Meris, also from Willemstad diocese, and Rev Steve Ransome of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain.

Archbishop Reece described the closing Mass as special because it marked the beginning of the three-year temporary suspension of seminary formation for regional priests.

Due to the lack of vocations, the small number of seminarians, the difficulty in providing staff and mounting financial problems, the Regional Seminary Board took a decision in February to suspend seminary formation and to transfer its seminarians in philosophy to the Seminary of Santo Tomas, Dominican Republic.

A decision was also taken in response to the recommendation of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of the Peoples, that the Regional Seminary Board transfer full authority, responsibility and accountability for the seminary to the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain.

Archbishop Reece said an unavoidably absent Seminary Board chairman Bishop Robert Kurtz of the diocese of Hamilton, Bermuda, and the other AEC bishops “all join me in thanking the Seminary community for your patience and understanding as we enter a new era in the formation of future priests for the region”.

Consecration at Seminary closing Mass.

Acknowledging the decision to suspend training has caused some level of pain “especially for those of us who had seen better days in terms of numbers and a certain esprit de corps during those halcyon years”, the archbishop of Kingston, Jamaica urged all not to give into hopelessness.

Describing it as a period of “dry martyrdom”, Archbishop Reece said “something good” must come out of these “none-too-desirable experiences”. While this period may be a disappointment and will call for adjustment, he said all concerned must be convinced that “the Lord of history, the Lord of the horizon, goes before us”.

“He never disappoints; rather, He is doing a new thing, a new underpinning for a spring time of vocations through laity formation and assertive vocation promotion in each diocese of the AEC.”

Dean of Studies Fr Eddy Bermingham, SJ later distributed six diplomas to graduates, including one to seminarian Alan Hall, who will be ordained a transitional deacon next Saturday (May 29); Rev Ransome will be ordained a diocesan priest at the same ceremony.

Giving closing remarks, Msgr Stewart thanked God for the opportunity to serve as rector for the last two years. The former Vicar General of the diocese of Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines also thanked families, friends, benefactors, and the entire Seminary community - Msgr Llanos for his “friendship and support”, spiritual directors, formators, lecturers, and Dr Everard Johnston, who would have been at the seminary for 40 years next year.

Before inviting the congregation to a prepared meal, Msgr Stewart said while the seminary’s closure may be seen as an end, it was definitely the start of something new.

2013 awaits… – Raymond Syms


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