Greetings in Christ from the seminary, hoping you all are enjoying a blessed and restful summer. Our men are now finishing up their summer assignments and many, if not most, will soon be boarding planes to join Pope Francis at World Youth Day in Portugal. Having attended these events back in Toronto and Cologne in 2002 and 2006, they are a truly amazing experience. They are also totally overwhelming, and not for old guys like myself! I look forward to hearing the stories from the seminarians upon their return in a few weeks.
This midsummer moment affords me the opportunity to share a word on the two other divisions of the seminary. When one thinks of St. John Vianney, they think of the 86 men studying for the priesthood. But our institution offers far more formation than just that; the diaconate division offers a four-year program of formation and instruction for men to be ordained to the permanent diaconate. I am grateful to count my own father among their alumni! And having taught them several years ago, it is a great joy to see many of them now serving in a wide variety of ministries throughout the Archdiocese. A special word of thanks to the director of the diaconate division, Deacon Tim Unger, who has written a few words as well.
Additionally, under the direction of Mr. Daniel Campbell, our third division – the lay division – offers an incredible variety of courses and formational opportunities for the lay faithful of Denver. I am grateful to see now that under Daniel’s care, the program has expanded from biblical courses to all kinds of theological and educational programs. But more below on the happenings of the lay division from Daniel.
The semester sprint begins shortly, with men returning on August 19th. Know of our gratitude for all of your prayers and support!
– Fr. John
PERMANENT DIACONATE DIVISION
Tucked away in the “catacombs” of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary are the offices of the St. Francis School of Theology for Deacons (SFSTD). SFSTD educates and trains men to serve the Church as permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Denver. SFSTD operates as a division of SJV Seminary, which allows our program to not only utilize the facilities of the seminary but also benefit from the instruction of the priests and faculty. We have been forming deacons for the AOD for over 50 years having ordained almost 300 deacons. This includes our most recent class of 21 men, the largest class yet, ordained on June 24th.
The man who will eventually serve as a deacon requires a formation that promotes the development of the whole person. Therefore, much like the SJV seminarians, our diaconal seminarians are formed in four dimensions: human, spiritual, pastoral and intellectual. Our program is four years, meeting on weekends throughout the academic year. During the weekends the men have class time, share a meal, Mass, adoration and pray the Liturgy of Hours together. If the man in formation is married, then we also invite their wives to attend any of our weekends whenever possible. In addition, a separate formation program for wives is held on four Sundays of the formation year. While formation can be a challenge, rest assured the man will leave SFSTD more closely conformed to Christ the Servant and ready to continue the Ministry of Jesus Christ.
We are blessed to have the support of Archbishop Aquila, Fr. Daniel Leonard and the seminary staff as we continue to form men as future deacons for the Archdiocese.
As the Director of the Lay Division at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, I have the blessing of overseeing unique programs of study. Unique because, unlike most seminaries, St. John Vianney is not only concerned with the formation of future clerics, but also has a division dedicated to the formation of the laity. Our mission at the Lay Division is to put people in contact and communion with Jesus, Who alone leads us to the heart of the Father in the Spirit. We consider ourselves a part of the Great Commission given by Our Lord to the Church in Matthew 28 to baptize all nations and teach them all that He has commanded. In essence, we’re all about making and maturing disciples. We do this through various offerings that study God’s call to each and every person to have a personal relationship with Him in the Church that He established with the Precious Blood of Jesus. Our two flagship programs are the Denver Catholic Biblical School, a four-year study of the Sacred Scriptures, and the Denver Catholic Catechetical School, a two-year study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We also offer other programs of study: year long “Enrichment Courses” in different topics of the faith, Short Courses throughout the year, Lecture Series throughout the liturgical seasons, and day long Workshops/Conferences. We are here to help the lay faithful know, love, and serve our Lord. Wherever you’re at in your faith, we have something for everybody!