Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Fasten Your Seatbelts: The Inquisition Arrives Shortly....

Winding down on this historic evening, there is one last thing to bring up: an item with a distinctively Philadelphia focus. But you all might just be intrigued to know.

This coming Sunday, 27 November, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Overbrook begins its turn in the serene and kindly gaze of the Apostolic Visitation of US Seminaries and Houses of Formation, which is extending through this academic year. The tour -- and thorough scouring -- of "The Brook" lasts through Friday, 2 December.

I'm told that the Visitation Team will be chaired by Archbishop Harry Flynn of St.Paul and Minneapolis, joined by Bishops Edward Braxton of Belleville and Robert McManus of Worcester (himself a former seminary rector in Providence), a group of priests in seminary ministry and a single layperson.

Of course, it's standard procedure for these sessions that the Visitors will have to interview each member of the faculty, each student and the members of the Board of Trustees, all while offering ample opportunity for each alumnus ordained within the last three years to have some kind of encounter as to the state of the institution. As Overbrook plays host to (as of September) 156 students from 23 dioceses and religious communities -- including Bishop McManus' diocese of Worcester -- the team will have its work cut for itself.

St. Charles' self-image is known far and wide for being quite high -- to some extent, rightfully so; its almost 175 years of existence has bequeathed the place has a very proud history of which to boast. Among its living alumni, it counts a cardinal (Keeler of Baltimore) and several luminaries of the church in the US and beyond, including Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; Msgr. James Green, head of the English desk in the Secretariat of State; Archbishop Edward Adams, the nuncio in Zimbabwe, numerous other curial officials, and in this country the archbishop of Oklahoma City and the bishops of Lexington, Las Vegas, Richmond (a former rector), Wheeling-Charleston, Harrisburg, Camden, Scranton, et al.

But the past is prologue. Here's hoping the vaunted rep holds up in our own time.