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What’s seminarian life like?

November 7, 2022

What's seminarian life like?

by Father Eduardo Rivera, CSB

“[The scholastic’s] preparation should include experience in all the elements of Basilian life and is intended to supply the member with resources for the life and work of a Basilian priest, for spiritual growth and fidelity to the Gospel, as well as methods of study and learning that will allow his education to continue throughout his Basilian life.”

Basilian Way of Life 86

You know them as seminarians. The Basilians call them scholastics. Whichever term you use, these men have completed their novitiate and professed the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. But what is life really like for a Basilian seminarian? Well, it’s definitely not boring!

Unlike diocesan seminarians, Basilian seminarians live in a Basilian house with not only other scholastics but also Basilian priests who work in universities, parishes, and schools in the area. The priests and seminarians pray, socialize, and eat together. A normal day for a Basilian seminarian begins with morning prayer from the liturgy of the hours and Mass. Prayer is an essential component of Basilian life as a priest and seminarian. Seminarians start and end their days in prayer; this includes the liturgy of the hours, Mass, meditation with the Blessed Sacrament, lectio divina or Scriptural meditations, rosaries and other devotions particular to each individual. After morning prayer and Mass, scholastics eat breakfast and prepare for their seminary classes.

Throughout the Fall and Spring semesters, seminarians study in classes ranging from philosophy and the Scriptures to Catholic moral teachings and foreign languages. There are plenty of tests, quizzes, reading assignments, research papers, and presentations to keep them busy in these seminary courses. These classes provide seminarians with the intellectual tools that they need for their ministry as priests.

After returning home from their classes, Basilian seminarians have special duties and chores to take care of throughout the house. Some Basilian seminarians are responsible for helping to prepare the meal for dinner, others make sure that rooms are clean and ready for guests, and some work on cleaning the outdoor garden. A little manual labor is good for the heart, mind, and soul.

In the evening, the seminarians and priests gather together to pray the liturgy of the hours. After evening prayer, it is time for dinner and socialization. Everyone might watch a movie or sports game, play a board game, or just talk. In either case, the time after dinner is an opportunity to relax and study for classes. To conclude their day, the seminarians pray the liturgy of the hours for their night prayer.

In addition to learning at the seminary, Basilian seminarians have weekly conferences with the director and assistant director of scholastics. These two priests supervise the seminarians’ formation program. They give guidance to the seminarians and provide conferences on topics like religious life and developing healthy habits for the priesthood.

The seminarians also volunteer in ministries throughout the year. They volunteer at homeless shelters, food banks, prisons, nursing homes, schools, and parishes. A seminarian might teach a catechism class to children at a parish or visit the elderly and bring Communion to the sick at a nursing home. These experiences give seminarians the chance to build up their pastoral skills, making connections with others and putting into practice what they are learning.

Here is an example of an average weekday for a Basilian seminarian.

7 a.m. – Morning Prayer and Mass
8 a.m. – Breakfast and Prepare for Class
9 a.m. – First Class at the Seminary
11 a.m. – Study/Exercise/Lunch
1:30 p.m. – Second Class at the Seminary
3 p.m. – Third Class at the Seminary
5 p.m. – House Duties/Chores
6 p.m. – Evening Prayer and Dinner
7:30 p.m. – Recreation (Watch a movie, play a game, study, etc.)
9:30 p.m. – Night Prayer

There is never a dull day in the life of a Basilian seminarian. Each day is an opportunity to learn, grow, and prepare for what the Lord has in store for those who become Basilian priests.


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