Dubuque parish begins ‘Support Our Seminarians’ program

Spiritual, material aid given to candidates for priesthood

By Dan Russo

Witness Editor

DUBUQUE — Just in time for Christmas, the parishioners of St. Columbkille Parish in Dubuque provided a special gift of spiritual and material support to the seminarians of the archdiocese.

For the first time this year, the parish engaged in a program called “Support Our Seminarians.” The idea came from the parish’s vocations committee and was carried out with support from the parish life committee. After four weeks of special collections at Masses beginning in October, the parish raised funds for all of the men from the archdiocese studying at St. Pius X Seminary at Loras College in Dubuque and at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois.

During the special collection period, Father Gabriel Anderson, pastor, and ­Father Ralph Davis, associate pastor, reflected on their experiences discerning their vocations during homilies. Parishioners also prayed for those in formation for the priesthood.

The congregation provided a $400 check to each seminarian, along with bags  that included homemade cookies and letters of encouragement from the students at St. Columbkille Elementary School and the adults of the parish.

One note from two young authors read, “Dear Seminarian, We are excited that you are becoming a priest. How long is priest school? What is your favorite church time/season?” Like many of the other children’s notes, the letter also contained original artwork.

The bags were delivered to the seminarians’ residence in Dubuque Nov. 30  and were delivered to Mundelein Dec. 1.

“We just want them to know how grateful we are for their sacrifice and their initial yes, for discernment!” explained Pat Derby, family life coordinator at St. Columbkille Parish. “This means they are listening and attentive to whatever God has in store for them. That in itself is amazing, especially in a world that is full of noise!”

In recent years, the parish has sponsored several initiatives to encourage vocations to the priesthood and religious life, including a vocations corner display in the church that highlights young men and women who are preparing for those callings. In 2018, the parish is planning to start an “Adopt a Seminarian” program.

PHOTO: The bags pictured above, full of homemade cookies and letters of support, were delivered, along with checks for $400 for each seminarian for the Archdiocese of Dubuque. (Photo by Dan Russo/The Witness)

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