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placeholder February 23, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 4   •   Oakland, CA
Seminarians in Rome benefitting from being
at the center of the Church

Matthew Murray

When Pope Benedict XVI left Rome on retiring, his helicopter flew so close to the Pontifical North American College that he could wave to the seminarians crowding its roof who were wildly waving to him.

That was one example of the proximity American seminarians in the college have to the heart of Christendom, explained Mark Randall. He is chief fundraiser for the college, which is on Janiculum Hill, a half mile from St. Peter's Basilica

By number of students the North American is the largest American seminary, Randall explained at the February Catholics@Work breakfast in Danville. Arguably it is also the most unique.

With 256 students from 101 dioceses it is a diverse group of men "ready to be soldiers for the Faith," he explained.

"We are making men like Christ, via a strong community," Randall said.

The college works in four major areas of formation: theological, pastoral, spiritual and human.

Randall said one current emphasis is on "how to give a good homily."

A major benefit of attending a seminary in Rome is being in the active center of Catholicism, underscored when Pope Benedict literally flew low over their heads.

"The piety in life is very immediate" for North American students. The college seeks to inform students, and helps them avoid taking their faith for granted.

"The formation is very good," shown by the fact that in 10 years only two students have left. "It is a happy, holy, healthy process."

With 40 to 50 ordinations from the college each year, it remains a major source of new priests for the American church.

Currently one of the Oakland diocese's 20 seminarians attends the North American, Matthew Murray from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Brentwood.

Two other recent graduates are working in the diocese, Rev. Brandon Macadaeg, ordained in 2013, now assigned to Holy Spirit Parish in Fremont, and Rev. Derrick Oliveira, ordained in 2012, at St. Joan of Arc Parish in San Ramon.

The North American was founded in 1859, and it continues to strengthen. In January it dedicated a 10-story classroom building, including numerous practice chapels for the future priests.

In addition to the main seminary, the college also includes Casa Santa Maria, a graduate study facility, plus the Institute for Continuing Theological Education, and the Visitors Office for the Vatican, which handles 50,000 ticket requests from the public each year.

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