Faith based education

A look into the world of future Holy Men

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Christopher Pietraszko

Jonas Hrebeniuk

KICKIN' IT CATHOLIC SCHOOL. First-year theology student Christopher Pietraszko poses inside King's seminary, pictured from the outside below.

Students on campus take courses for a variety of different reasons, sometimes in order to start a career, or to broaden their knowledge base. For theology students, the reason has everything to do with faith.

“It has a lot to do with our internal relationship with God,” says Christopher Pietraszko, a first-year theology student at the St. Peter’s seminary at King’s University College.

The theology program gives students a master’s of divinity degree. Students must have a three-year philosophy degree before entering the five-year theology program.

There are 56 students who live and study at the seminary. Their community is small and they maintain close relationships with their classmates and professors by congregating for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.

Becoming a priest involves a heavy sacrifice that theology students are prepared to make.

“We are not going to be married,” Pietraszko says. “We have a saying that as priests we are not of the world but we are in the world and in order to serve we have to make sacrifices.”

“The biggest example or reason for wanting to become a priest is because I see how much my faith has given me and I want to be able to share that with other people so that they can come to the same happiness as I have,” says Francis Zambon, a second-year philosophy student at the seminary aspiring to enter the theology program.

King's seminary

“It is different for everyone. Ever since I was in Grade Two I had a desire to [be a priest] and I went through a lot of peer pressure to not be a priest in high school. It requires a lot of sacrifice, but it was truly [for] a love for the Church,” Pietraszko explains.

Visiting the seminary makes it clear theology students do not pray 24 hours a day. Their living area has a games room, weight room, and library.

“We do argue a lot over the dishes,” Pietraszko says.

“Even though we live an intense life of prayer we will still go to Christina’s pub for a drink. St. Patrick’s Day is when we get to bring out the Guinness!”

Pietraszko discussed some of the challenges theology students face by being different from the average Western student.

“We are not threatened by other people when it comes to moral questions.

“When [Dr. Henry] Morgentaler received an honorary degree we protested and Western allows us to show our concerns,” Pietraszko explains.

“But it would be nice to see more dialogue between Western and its religious affiliates. I certainly would not say we are angry or frustrated but we would like a better opportunity to discuss these issues in a philosophical way.”

Pietraszko also portrays acceptance of different types of people and the different choices they make.

For instance, he asserts theology students do not perceive different religions as wrong.

“I love any religious faith that tries to discern who God is. Catholicism does not condemn other religions and a major part of living together is developing a dialogue that pursues one truth not being contradictory to each other,” Pietraszko says.

“I have an uncle that is a Hindu so for me to think he is not going to Heaven is crazy,” Zambon says.

Reverend Michael Bechard, chaplain of the King’s University College adds, “People come to us who are Jewish, Muslim and other different Christian denominations. It is not our job to make people Catholic, but to make people walk in their faith, we celebrate [the] diversity God has provided.”

There are many aspects of Western culture the more devoutly religious come into conflict with.

“I see the sincere struggle that is going on when they feel as though they do not fit in anymore because they found out something about themselves or something that has occurred in their life and they feel the pain of separation from their religion,” Sister Susan Glabb, counselor and spiritual director for the King’s campus community, says. “It is very hard to see a student so young feel that way.”

“I think people our age are looking for happiness and want to find fulfillment. There are all these things society tells them will make them happy, but some people say ‘hey, that’s not doing it for me,’” Zambon says.

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