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April 22, 1994     The Message
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YI E S SAGE The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana VOLUME 24 NUMBER 34 April 22, 1994  mmlr'# e. DfattlISW EAST DEANERY speaker: St. Meinrad students are diverse and dedicated Message editor dents have a mature, broader life-expe- diversity of the Church in the United Father Mark O'Keefe, acting academic dean Theology. Father Oeefe was speaking at a gather- held at Sarto Retreat House in Evansville, April "A Profile of Today's Student at Saint Main- statistics for both the college and the theology divisions. are typically college age -- between 18 and and two foreign countries. States with the ofstudents are Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Illinois. oft.he college students came from high school had no previous Catholic school education. come from single-parent families. were altar servers. about the priesthood during their first eight education, but a majority of them report they received from anyone. percent say they were influenced by a St. Meinrad alumnus. drawn from surveys. Information about theology by Father O'Keefe from his personal knowledge of the students in theology come from a pre-the0logy program. seminary. a college ' : : :: ' ..... " " : ='  " students are in their late 20s, slightly older than the students. students had other (non-seminary) college experience students have had a kind of adult conversion of them went through a period of some years of not their faith. theology students today are not as ira- as were students 25 years ago. While many stu- rience, their experience of faith has had less of a chance to develop and ma- ture. Some students are looking for the certainty they did not find in their fam- ily or in society, and the hope to find a kind of black-and-white security in the Church, he said. Students who come from a deeper experience of Catholic culture, or who have come from a college seminary, tend to have a better understanding that there are various ways of viewing things within the Church. Father O'Keefe said there are, of course, some areas of certainty in Church teaching, but the areas are not as broad and as numerous as some theology students expect them to be. St. Meinrad has been providing training for lay ministers for 25 years, but a residential program for lay per- sons is new this year. Among students in the residential program for lay persons are an English professor, a Holy Cross brother and the wife of a Methodist minister. in a sabbatical program at St. Meinrad are also diverse. The Benedictine Father Mark O'Keefe speaks to St. Meinrad alumni at Sarto Retreat House, April 12. Father OKeefe is act- ing academic dean at St. Main. rad School of Theology. St. Meinrad has 118 college students and in the e theology. All students -- those in priesthood preparation and these in lay rain: istry studies  participate in programs of spiritual formation. In the Diocese of Evansville, St. Meinrad alumni include 103 priests, 387 lay persons, 39 summer session alumni and 12 students who reside in the diocese While Father OKeefe said that the diverse student body clearly reflected the diversity of the Church, he also found another fact to be just as obvious. "Today's students are as dedicated to the service of God as we were in our day," he said. says church needs strong families to promote vocations Service To crisis the promote able eats and reli- Paul II said or the 1994 World Day of Prayer for Voca- tions April 24. The pope encouraged fami- lies to act as "a garden or a first seminary" in which the seeds of vocation can grow to maturity. That means parents must be willing to "prepare, cultivate and protect the voca- tions which God stirs up in their family," he said. But this is a difficult task when families are caught up in the "consumerism, hedonism and secularism" of contempo- rary society, said the papal message, released at the Vati- can Dec. 28. "How sad it is to learn of sit- uations, unfortunately numer- aims to bring environmental to 18,500 parishes (CNs) __ In tional program m the National parish communities." environ- the front Church, a kit is to be the nation's in- arth Day, led =Renew- Earth: A has," was Catholic ronmental as Part of the Pligious Environ- in the na- Council of Churches, the Coali- tion on the Environment and Jewish Life, and the Evangeli- cal Environmental Network prepared similar booklets for their own congregations. In all, 53,000 churches and syna- gogues were to receive educa- tional materials on the envi- ronment. =The parish is vhere our faith life is lived%ut,  said Walter Grazer, manager of the USCC program. =If the Catholic Church is going to make a difference in helping to bring about environmental jus- tice, it will be through our The Catholic booklet, printed on recycled paper, of_ fers suggested prayers, homily helps, essays for reflection and a four- step process for orga- nizing an environmental jus- tice committee in the parish. It also contains the full text of "Renewing the Earth: An In- vitation to Reflection and Ac- tion on Environment in Light of Catholic Social Teaching," the 1991 document of the U.S. bishops from which the special three-year program on envi- ronmental justice arose in late 1993. See BOOKLET page 2 ous, of families overwhelmed by such phenomena and of the devastating effects!" he said. Individual families and the church pay the price of this "widespread disorder of ideas and of moral behavior," the pope said. He questioned how children who are "morally or- phans, without educators and without models" can grew up to respect Christian values. In such conditions, he said, it becomes especially difficult for the seeds of vocation to de- velop. =The strength and stability of the fabric of the Christian family represent the primary condition for the growth and maturation of sacred vocations, and they constitute the most pertinent response to the crisis of vocations," he said. The pope called on the church to help parents better recognize and welcome a tell- gious calling among their chil- dren. All priests and religious who work with families in schools, hospitals and other en- vironments should show joyful witness to their calling, he added. The parish community should recognize its own re- sponsibility and implement long-term projects to encour- age vocations, =without being too concerned about immediate results," he said.