|April 3, 2017 • VOL. 55, NO. 7 • Oakland, CA|
Adieu Compagnie des Pretres de Saint-Sulpice
After 118 years, the Sulpicians depart St. Patrick's Seminary & University on June 30. They take with them their deceased French Sulpician confreres, the founding fathers. This moment brings a finale to the long presence of the society on the West Coast: St. Edward and St. Thomas seminaries in Kenmore, Washington; St. Joseph's College in Mountain View; and now the Sulpician presence in Menlo Park, where 119 Sulpicians served from 1898-2017.
Second, the critical connection between seminarians and their families. The summer months allowed time away from the campus to enable students to stay connected with their family and friends, an ethos that attempted to prevent isolationism.
Third, an abiding link with the diocesan priesthood. Rev. Jean-Jacques Oliver did not found a congregation but a "society," a fellowship or union of priests working for a common purpose. Sulpicians are diocesan priests forming diocesan priests.
Fourth, a spirituality rooted in the French School of Spirituality which brought new life to the Church after the Council of Trent. Olier's prayer "Jesus living in Mary…" played a central role in seminary life, along with the liturgy, devotions, private and communal prayer, spiritual and human formation, and conferences by the rector who acts primarily as the pastor of the community.
Fifth, collegiality is the governance model that animates the community. The entire faculty share in solidarity responsibility for the seminary. Collegiality provides the example of collaboration for seminarians to implement as priests.
This irreplaceable tradition now sadly comes to its end. The Sulpicians are gone, but the memories and tradition will hopefully never be forgotten.
(Sulpician Father Gerald D. Coleman is adjunct professor, Graduate Department of Pastoral Studies, Santa Clara University. He was president rector of St. Patrick's from 1988-2004.)
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