The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Several kinds of gifts help seminarians

Published: February 4, 2012   

Catholics can support the immediate needs of educating seminarians and supporting those who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood by giving to the Catholic Arkansas Sharing Appeal, donating to the Holy Thursday collection and attending the Taste of Faith fundraisers in Little Rock and northwest Arkansas.

It cost the Diocese of Little Rock $1.2 million in the 2010-2011 fiscal year to educate 33 seminarians and operate the House of Formation and Office of Vocations.

  • Paying the cost
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  • The average cost to educate one seminarian for one year is $32,000. Investment income from the Msgr. James E. O'Connell Diocesan Seminarian Fund no longer is sufficient to cover expenses.

    Over the past three years, the diocese has had to generate more income for immediate needs in addition to earnings from the Seminarian Fund to educate the increased number of seminarians.

    Greg Wolfe, diocesan finance director, said, "We took about $400,000 out of the fund last year and with more seminarians that amount is going to get bigger unless we can increase our other sources of funding.  We want to get to the point where we aren't withdrawing so much from the fund."

    While the donations to CASA, Taste of Faith and Holy Thursday collection are helping to pay for current needs, the diocese also desires to increase the Diocesan Seminarian Fund so that it can generate more earnings to pay for seminarian expenses. Currently, the fund has about $9 million. Earnings from this size of a fund are suitable to educate nine or 10 seminarians, not 35, Wolfe said.

    "Ideally we would have $1 million for each seminarian, or $35 million," he said of the fund.

    Msgr. Scott Friend, vocations director, said when the number of seminarians was lower and earnings from the fund would generate enough money to pay for seminarian education, the diocese backed off from promoting the fund.

    "I don't think people were asked for a long period," Msgr. Friend said. "We weren't in a situation where we needed the money. There was more than enough money out of the endowment to pay for the cost of six, seven to 15 seminarians. There wasn't a need to collect."

    Msgr. Friend said donations to CASA, Taste of Faith and the Holy Thursday collection as well as gifts to the Seminarian Fund are investments in future priests.

    Burses within the fund can still be created to honor or remember someone, Wolfe said. In 2010-2011, a total of $197,689 was added to the fund. A burse can be started with any amount and named when it reaches $500.

    Paying the cost

    Here is where the $1.2 million paid in 2010-2011 fiscal year for seminarian education came from:

  • Donations: $61,773
  • CASA, 2011: $75,000
  • Taste of Faith dinner in Little Rock, August 2010: $195,420
  • Holy Thursday collection, 2011: $298,540
  • Investment income from Seminarian Fund: $214,672
  • Withdrawal from Seminarian Fund: $397,408

    Donations from the June 2011 Taste of Faith in Springdale are being used for the 2011-2012 school year, diocesan finance director Greg Wolfe said.

  • Read more about plans for the House of Formation in Little Rock.

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