Monday, May 12, 2008
By Ann Rodgers
Catholic Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh received an honorary doctorate from St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe over the weekend, capping a week in which his prayers for more vocations to the priesthood show signs of being answered.
More than 80 men and boys from the Diocese of Pittsburgh attended an inquiry meeting Thursday for those who think they might be interested in priesthood. It was followed by a standing-room-only hour of prayer for vocations.
"The spirit is moving," Bishop Zubik said.
The inquirers, who attended a cookout at St. Paul Seminary in East Carnegie, got a tour and a talk from the bishop on what priesthood is about. They ranged in age from older grade school students to professionals, the oldest of whom was 51. Then they joined nearly 600 other people from across the diocese to pray for more priests, with people standing five rows deep in the back and spilling out of the auditorium door to fill the lobby.
"I have never seen the seminary auditorium so packed," said Bishop Zubik, who gave up the traditional bishop's mansion in Squirrel Hill when he became bishop of Pittsburgh last year to live at St. Paul with the seminarians.
New seminarians live there for at least two years to receive spiritual formation and take college-level classes in philosophy and theology at Duquesne University. Then they go on for at least four more years of graduate and continued formation at one of several seminaries the diocese uses, including St. Vincent.
Only after receiving a master of divinity degree, as nine men did at St. Vincent Friday night, is a man eligible to be ordained for a diocese or a religious order.
There were no Pittsburghers among the St. Vincent graduates this year, although Bishop Zubik expects to ordain three men from other seminaries next month.
The diocese currently has 27 seminarians. Four of them attend St. Vincent, which currently has students from 13 dioceses, 12 Benedictine monasteries and several other religious orders.
One graduate in Friday night's commencement was a woman, Carol Ann Seraphin, who had earned a master of arts in theology, which is different from the ordination-track degree.
When Bishop Zubik spoke he addressed her briefly from the pulpit, apologizing for having assumed that all of the graduates were going to become priests and asking her understanding for having prepared a commencement address that was primarily about priesthood.
In his address he told the future priests to make sure their knowledge of God was more than academic.
"Do you know about Jesus and really know him?" he said. "Can you listen to experts speak about him, but especially let him speak about himself?"
Archabbot Douglas Nowicki of St. Vincent presented Bishop Zubik with his honorary doctorate, calling him an example of "what it means to be a follower of Christ and of the Holy Spirit."
Bishop Zubik has two master's degrees, the one required for ordination and another he earned later from Duquesne University in education administration, but no earned doctorate.
Although he attended seminary at St. Mary's in Baltimore, he has long-standing ties to St. Vincent from his many years as a priest and auxiliary bishop in Pittsburgh, when he served as an adjunct spiritual director at the seminary in Latrobe.