Your chance to visit Dunwoodie

Never been to St. Joseph’s Seminary in the Dunwoodie neighborhood of Yonkers but curious about it?

The famous Catholic training ground for (fewer and fewer) priests will hold an open house this Sunday for “the people and parishes” of the archdiocese.

tjndc5-5ipf5e12zxwvbglg6di_layout.jpgIt will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on All Souls Day.

The afternoon will feature: tours of the main floor led by seminarians; presentations on life at the seminary; tours of the seminary’s 42 acres; and a peak at the papal chair (pictured) used by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI during their stops in Dunwoodie.

Adortion of the Blessed Sacrament will be available all afternoon in the chapel.

And Bishop Gerald Walsh, rector of the seminary, will lead Solemn Evening Prayer at 4 p.m. in the chapel.

Also on hand will be Father Luke Sweeney, director of vocations for the archdiocese, and Father Luis Saldana, assistant director for Hispanic vocations and rector of the St. John Neumann minor seminary.

tjndc5-5ipf5gtkipgw3zxf6di_layout.jpg“This open house is for everyone — young and old, married and single, and for priests who would like to bring people by,” Sweeney tells Catholic New York.

If you’ve never been there, the seminary is a magnificent building. The chapel was just refurbished for Benedict’s visit.

In the main hallway, you can see graduation pictures of each class of priests going back decades. The pictures alone give you a real sense of Catholic history in New York.

Seminary grounds now quiet and still

I returned to St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers the other day, where it was beyond quiet.

I was standing on the fields behind the seminary, where the papal youth rally took place on April 19. It was empty, just grass and dirt. I actually had trouble getting my bearings: Where had the stage been? Where were the incredibly long lines for food? Where were priests listening to confessions?

tjndc5-5jopkzury01rr6lykxn_layout.jpgAfter turning around a few times, I was finally able to walk over to the hill where the “press pen” was. From 34,700 people (the final count on the total number of people there) to just me.

The grounds are so quiet this week because seminarians are on retreat before tomorrow’s ordination Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Then seminarians get two weeks off before heading for their summer parish assignments.

But Father Luke Sweeney, head of vocations for the Archdiocese of NY, has been busy.

The hope was that the papal visit would inspire men to listen for a call to the priesthood. The archdiocese desperately needs vocations, as the number of active priests just drops and drops.

Since the papal visit, Sweeney (that’s him) has received dozens of calls and emails from men who say they may be hearing such a call.

I’ll be writing about Sweeney’s experience during the next few days.

By the way, there are rumblings — loud rumblings — of major changes coming with the archdiocese. Much of it has to do with Cardinal Egan’s upcoming (when?) retirement. But lots of church officials may be changing roles. I’m spending a lot of time on the phone these days…

Vocations coming?

tjndc5-5jnvbyb0psn12s1ibitk_layout.jpgI’m heading to St. Joseph’s Seminary this morning, my first visit there since I was one among 25,000 a couple of weeks back.

It should be a lot quieter this morning. Too quiet — with the numbers of seminarians way down these days.

I hope to chat with Father Luke Sweeney, head of vocations for the Archdiocese of NY, about the many inquiries he’s received since the pope was in town.

I’ll post something about it later.

Boy, I just came across a fascinating sliver of the papal visit that I never heard about. Maybe others missed it, too…

1209235229_0835.jpgWhen Benedict XVI met in Washington with victims of sex abuse from Boston, he was given a very unusual book by Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

It was a memorial, a work of art, a hand-painted list of 1,476 men and women who have reported being abused by a priest, deacon, or nun in the Archdiocese of Boston.

The Boston Globe’s Michael Paulson wrote about it.