There is much to celebrate in Charlotte, North Carolina these days. As reported by the Catholic News Herald:
For the first time in its 44-year history, the Diocese of Charlotte has 24 men in formation in three seminaries. A contributing factor to the record number of seminarians this year has been the establishment of a minor seminary in Charlotte, St. Joseph’s College Seminary.
In addition to the eight young men in minor seminary, thirteen men are studying at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio and three at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. Of these, five are scheduled to be ordained next June.
While every seminarian is an example of a young man’s affirmative response to God’s invitation, this record number of seminarians should also lead us to reflect upon all that the Diocese of Charlotte is doing right.
Under the steady and orthodox leadership of Bishop Peter Jugis the diocese has fostered a strong devotion to the Eucharist. Just this past weekend Charlotte hosted its 12th Eucharistic Congress. 15,000 people participated this year, many arriving early Saturday to join in the annual Eucharistic Procession through the streets of downtown Charlotte.
Respect for the Eucharist extends to the liturgy as well. An increasing number of parishes in the diocese have returned to the use of the communion paten at Mass, some even the communion rail. This in turn has resulted in a growing number of the faithful rediscovering the traditional practice of receiving Communion on the tongue.
Bishop Jugis has also been highly supportive of the Traditional Mass. From weekly Sunday Latin Masses, to First Friday & First Saturday Masses in the Extraordinary Form, the priests of the diocese have been encouraged to meet the spiritual needs of traditional Catholics. In 2016 the diocese offered its first ever Confirmation Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Orchestral masses and sacred music camps are also increasing in frequency.
Finally, several higher profile parishes have returned to the traditional practice of only altar boys serving the Mass. This includes the cathedral as well. Three of these parishes presently account for a quarter of Charlotte’s seminarians.
The Diocese of Charlotte is vibrant. Dedicated clergy are active in the formation of the next generation. Cassocks, lace, and reverent liturgies are forming the young.
It is important to note how this diocesan culture of orthodoxy has carried over into the newly founded minor seminary.
Each day begins and ends in great silence. In the morning that silence is only interrupted by Holy Mass. On any given day Mass may be offered in either the Ordinary Form or Extraordinary Form.
In full obedience to Pope St. John XXIII’s 1962 Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia, the young men of St. Joseph’s College Seminary are learning Latin. To that end, the seminarians began the year in total immersion, only speaking Latin for the first two weeks of study.
Ultimately, at the heart of every vocations success story is prayer. I recently learned an interesting fact about Bishop Jugis.
As His Excellency travels throughout the diocese, visiting parish after parish, he often meets young men discerning a call to the priesthood. Each one expressing an interest becomes a personal prayer intention of the bishop’s. He prays for their vocation.
Prayer and action. Orthodoxy and tradition. And a love for Our Eucharistic Lord. This is a universal blueprint for fostering discernment and priestly vocations; and not just in Charlotte.