hen I was shorter and had much more hair and being a priest not much more than a passing daydream, I imagined the seminary a far different place than it turned out to be. I don’t know why, but I thought it would be much more, I don’t know, English
, which is quite ludicrous I know. It was pictured as an old mansion type building set on the shores of Lake Erie. Leather bound books would be in oak bookcases in a library with leaded windows. Classes would be held in sitting rooms and be rather like sharing the wisdom of the elders than formal classes. In chapel we would sit in choir stalls and wear cassock and surplus and sing in Latin.
So I thought as I was giving a tour of the seminary during the FEST, I would take some pictures and give those of you who have not been in a seminary a little taste of what one is like. The tour is a rather limited one (or the tours would have gone on for hours) but you might get a better idea of what one looks like.
First I would like you to meet Fr. Mike Gurnik, classmate and head of vocations for the Diocese of Cleveland. He roped me in to give the tours of the seminary at the FEST. He’s the go-to man if you are thinking of becoming a priest in our diocese.
This is the seminary. Well, actually it is the Center for Pastoral Leadership (CPL) and actually houses two seminaries, St. Charles Borromeo Minor Seminary and Saint Mary, Our Lady of the Lake Major Seminary and Graduate School of Theology. In addition to these are all the other training programs for service in the diocese as well as some other programs run out of some of the buildings on the campus. The land was originally a farm evidenced by the large barn still on the back of the property. The farm was willed in half, one half going to the Good Shepherd Sisters who built th
e Marycrest School for Girls, the other to a Jewish Community who built Telshe Yeshiva.
In 1954 the Diocese bought the property from the sisters, expanded the building, and in different manifestations has had a seminary there ever since. The CPL sits on 54 beautiful acres and has a combined floor space of almost 280,000 square feet.
In the entrance way you will find this bronze piece in the floor that has the coat of arms for the Diocese. Legend has it that if a seminarian walk across it, he will not be ordained. Not wanting any prospective future seminarian to accidentally tread across it on this day, Fr. Gurnick put a plant on top of it.
If you turned left, there would be the Aula Magna (large hall) that was once the movie theater for the seminarians who were strictly forbidden to leave the grounds. Since then the floor has been leveled and it is now a large conference room. This is where Dawn Eden came to speak when she came to Cleveland.
In the other direction and through these beautiful gates is the Bruening-Marotta Library. It is one of the finest theological libraries in the United States. It is home to some historically significant works including the Bishop Ignatius Horstmann Collection that served as the original seminary library. The oldest book in this collection, which is pictured
here, dates back to 1504.
As you walk around the building there is nary a corner that is not used as a display for art. One of the collections is known as the Hallinan-Newman Art Collection considered one of Cleveland’s premier religious art exhibits.
One of my favorite pieces is this one, hand carved in Germany. When closed it presents the first chapter of the Gospel of John, “In principio erat verbum . . .” “In the beginning was the Word . . .” When open we see a beautiful manger scene.
The heart of the campus is
Resurrection Chapel. It is oddly shaped with the separate naves stemming from the sanctuary. This was from the Marycrest days when the nuns could have their own private chapel, the resident another and the third I was never quite sure about. Perhaps it was for visitors. Seen here are some of the many statues of
saints that surround the seminarians as they pray.
This nave is used for the recitation of the Divine Office. The seminarians face each other for morning, evening, and night prayer, chanting the verses of the Psalms and prayers in an alternating fashion.
At the head of this nave is the Tellers Brand Pipe organ, a gem of an instrument. No matter how hard they try, electric organs just do not quite cut it like a good pipe organ.
Here is a model of a seminarian’s room. You can tell it is a model and not the real thing. No seminarian is this neat. That would be unhealthy.
There is a lot more to see, but you would get board reading and I would get board typing. There is of course the refectory where the seminarians and others eat. Fr. Gurnick supplied us with the statistics that the boys eat about 24,000 eggs and 30,000 slices of bacon for breakfast each year. And this is during a health craze in our country. Because of this there is also a weight room, gym and racquetball courts. Not to be forgotten are the classrooms that are not unlike typical college classrooms, lounges, recreation areas, courtyards, and other various and sundry nooks and crannies.