The Seminary Years
St. Mary's began as a mission; for many years it carried on a program of education in the best Jesuit tradition. Now, St. Mary's College turns to a different phase of that work, the education of future priests for the Society of Jesus.
The Jesuit's road to the priesthood is a long one: two years of novitiate, two of classical studies, and three of logic and philosophy. Then, he is assigned for three years to a Jesuit high school or college where he teaches, moderates student activities, acts as a prefect, and learns to guide young men. Finally he enters on the last stage of his long training -- the four-year study of theology. Usually at the end of his third year of this course, he is ordained to the priesthood. Following the fourth year, he makes his tertianship, which amounts to a third year of novitiate.
It was this last important phase of theological training that St. Mary's College undertook in 1931 when the faculty and students of the Missouri Province "Theologate" were transferred here from St. Louis University. In the atmosphere of St. Mary's, the Jesuit scholastic spent those years when God became the all-absorbing study of his life, when he would learn to be a doctor of souls that are sick, and a father to all -- always preparing for that supreme day in the Immaculata Chapel when he would receive the greatest power given to man: the priesthood.
Thus, in this little spot in Kansas was fulfilled the three-fold purpose of St. Ignatius of Loyola's little company: a mission, a school, and a seminary.
During the seminary years, ordinations took place in the Immaculata during three days in June when the Bishop of Leavenworth (one of Bishop Miége's successors), or of Kansas City in Kansas, or of Wichita, or another visiting Bishop, conferred the subdiaconate, diaconate, and (on the final day) the priesthood.
Long lines of ordinandi processed down the hill from Bellarmine to the Immaculata; then formed on the Immaculata steps in two lines through which the ordaining Bishop and his ministers passed; at the ordination ceremony in the chapel, large numbers of visiting clergy participated in the imposition of hands; newly-ordained priests gave their first blessings to their parents at the communion railing and outdoors; the ordination banquet took place in the refectory [present Assumption Chapel]; parties of visitors gathered at the Memorial Arch awaiting departure (probably on ordination day the train made a special extra stop at the College gates).
There is an oft-repeated statement that 1,000 priests were ordained in the Immaculata. In a period of more than 30 years from 1932-1967, that is entirely possible, as can be seen from the numbers in the yearly ordination classes. Statistics from some sample years follow: 1943 - 40 ordained; 1945 - 41; 1948 - 39; 1949 - 35; 1950 - 33; 1951 - 21; 1952 - 32; 1953 - 27; 1954 - 24; 1955 - 30; 1956 - 10; 1959 - 17; 1960 - 14. After the war years, the number of ordinandi are lower, and decline noticeably with the approach of the 1960's.
|1933||April - Fire in the College building destroys the attic recreation rooms; the roof is replaced, but smoked timbers can still be seen there. [This roof, once bristling with chimneys, has been altered several times. At some point during these years, most of the dormer windows were removed.]|
|1940-1956||Fr. Daniel Conway, S.J., is Rector of St. Mary's; he takes the young priests out to learn how to conduct "street-preaching." A great missionary, Fr. Conway brought about through "street-preaching" the formation of Catholic parishes in Kansas towns; Father was President of Rockhurst College in Kansas City; and after his work at St. Mary's, he was appointed superior over all the colleges, high schools, parishes, and missions managed by the 1,269 Jesuits of the Missouri Province.|
|1942||January - a new bi-monthly publication, Review for Religious, a journal for religious priests, brothers, and sisters, begins publication from SMC. By early 1945, its circulation will be more than 5,000; it will continue publication up into the 1960's.|
|The December issue of The Jesuit Bulletin, published at St. Mary's during these years, features Midnight Mass in the Immaculata Chapel on the cover, and inside a glimpse of seminary life at SMC. In an article, "Working Their Way," William F. Kelley, a second year theologian at SMC, explains the daily routine of a young Jesuit scholastic at St. Mary's which hums with activity.|
|"Every Scholastic prepares scrupulously each day for his four or five classes in Dogmatic and Moral Theology, Sacred Scripture, and Canon Law. This, together with the research needed for obligatory seminars, keeps even the most brilliant thoroughly busy... Suffice it to say that St. Mary's has an enviable record of mothering thoroughly trained Theologians well worthy of their distinguished ancestry." The writer goes on to explain how manual work provides a necessary relief from the taxing regimen of study, and enables St. Mary's to operate with some of the self-sufficiency of the old monasteries. The scholastics are their own janitors and groundsmen; they work in the kitchen and wait at table; sacristans prepare altars and Mass equipment for the seventy-plus Masses celebrated daily by the priests at the College; scholastics operate shoe-repair machinery; others do bookbinding and printing; a large staff assists in the library; the mimeograph crew churns out class notes. There was a tailoring shop on campus [in what is now the admissions office for the Academy]. You can have your photograph taken, your watch repaired, or your hair cut on campus.|
|Scholastics assist in the office of the Jesuit Seminary Aid Association, headquartered at SMC and put in many hour editing of the Jesuit Bulletin, (circulation, twenty thousand), as well as the clerical work of the new Review for Religious. The Seminary Aid / Jesuit Bulletin office was housed in a big classroom in Bellarmine that was a beehive of activity. Work for the flourishing Kansas State Sodality Union of fifty high schools and colleges employs ten others. And the councilors of Camp De Smet must plan afar for their enrollment and the summer's program. During World War II, with the sons of the small town of St. Mary's enlisted in America's defense, when Kansas was blessed with bumper crops, SMC theologians pitched in to provide manpower for the harvest.|
|We must not fail to mention that during this time many Jesuit Lay Brothers worked at St. Mary's assisting in the kitchen, the grounds, the farm, the laundry, the infirmary, the offices -- wherever these dedicated men of God were needed.|
|1943||June 22 -- St. Mary's College sees 40 of her sons raised to the dignity of the priesthood by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Paul C. Schulte, S.T.D., Bishop of Leavenworth. Although the nation is at war, these are happy days at St. Mary's for the newly ordained young priests and their families.|
|1944||Spring - Among the Scholastics at SMC are 11 Jesuits from Mexico. Since the beginning of the century some 70 Mexican Jesuits, driven into exile by the hostile government, have come to the Missouri Province to receive their philosophical or theological training at St. Louis or at St. Mary's.|
|1945||The "Ordination Issue" of the Jesuit Bulletin shows photos of seminarians learning the rubrics for their future function as priests: practicing "dry Masses," learning to administer Extreme Unction, pouring water on St. Mary's much-baptized "baby" (a doll), and studying the breviary with Fr. Gerald Ellard. Fr. Gerald and his brother, Fr. Augustine, were both stationed at SMC. Fr. Gerald, an expert on the Liturgy, prepared at least 20 classes for the sacred functions of the priesthood during his many years at SMC.|
|Ever since the invention of moveable type during the lifetime of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Jesuits have used the power of the printed word for the work of God. At this time they are producing dozens of periodicals for the religious and laity. Several, mentioned above, are published at SMC, where, in addition, the "St. Peter Canisius Writers' Guild" meets in "the Rock Building" (Coppens Hall, judging by the photos), to study the great apostolate of the pen. At this time the staff of the Kansas State Sodality Union at St. Mary's publishes the KSSU Sodality Bulletin, and distributes a popular series of "Catholics Say" articles appearing in 36 Kansas newspapers.|
|1946||The Jesuit Bulletin celebrates its 25th anniversary; still published in St. Mary's, it is prepared entirely by the volunteer labors of Fathers, Brothers, and Scholastics.|
|1948||St. Mary's College celebrates the centenary of its founding. On June 14, in the Immaculata, 39 Jesuits are ordained to the priesthood by the Most Reverend Joseph E. Ritter, S.T.D., Archbishop of St. Louis. Since 1931, 700 priests have been ordained in the Immaculata; hence, St. Mary's is called "Mother of Priests."|
|1949||June 14 - For the first time at St. Mary's, the ordaining bishop is also a Jesuit, the Most Reverend Ignatius Glennie, Bishop of Trincomalee in Ceylon, who ordains 35 candidates.|
|1951||The 21 members of this year's ordination class have made their entire priestly preparation under the clouds of war, having begun their novitiate in 1939, at the outbreak of World War II.|
|1956||Every year since 1945 has witnessed the entrance of World War II and Korean War veterans into the Jesuit novitiates. Presently studying the the Theologate at SMC are 20 veterans who have served their country in the armed forces, and one, Fr. John J. Halloran, Minister of Scholastics, who was an army chaplain in both wars.|
|The "Ignatian Year" (400th anniversary of the death of St. Ignatius of Loyola) -- 10 young men are ordained at St. Mary's on June 18 by Bishop Hunkeler of Kansas City, Kansas.|
|1957||March 7, Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas - Archbishop Hunkeler, Bishop Carroll of Wichita, and 76 diocesan and religious clergy gather at SMC to honor the Saint. Theology Digest, published at SMC, sponsors a talk by the famous author, publisher, and lecturer, Frank Sheed (of the Catholic publishing house Sheed and Ward). Mr. Sheed, recently the first laymen chosen by Rome for an honorary degree of Doctor of Theology, speaks on "The Common Sense of St. Thomas Aquinas."|
|December 8 - Alumni of the "Old School" gather to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the Immaculata and have a reunion. Kansas Governor George Docking sends a note of congratulations to Rector Francis P. Furlong on achievements of SMC, the oldest educational institute in the State.|
|1960||June 15 - In the Immaculata Chapel, Archbishop Hunkeler ordains to the priesthood three young men from the Missouri Province, and 11 from other provinces.|
|1961||The "Votel" building (now the Library) is remodeled for library purposes. First known as the "Juniorate," it was later renamed for the Rector of 1887-1894 who built it. Now, the fourth floor theater and the attic are removed, leaving a three-story building with a (leak prone) flat roof. The remaining three floors on the west side of the building are torn out and replaced with four levels of library stacks. A fifth level is planned, but never constructed. The windows are sealed off on the west side of the building and a special heating system and elevator installed for the library. You may read more about the history and recent use of this building here.|
|1964||There are 181 enrolled in the 4-year minor and 4-year major Theology courses at St. Mary's College. Jesuit priests on campus number 81 (with two more at Immaculate Conception Parish in town); 133 Jesuit Scholastics and 9 Jesuit lay brothers are also residing in St. Mary's.|
|1966||One year before the closing of St. Mary's, there are 168 enrolled in the Theology courses; Jesuits on campus count 77 priests, 127 scholastics, and 7 lay brothers.|