A School of the Lord’s Service
To Serve Christ is to Reign
“We have, therefore, to establish a school of the Lord’s service, in the setting forth of which we hope to order nothing that is harsh or rigorous. But if anything be somewhat strictly laid down, according to dictates of sound reason, for the amendment of vices or the preservation of charity, do not, therefore, fly in dismay from the way of salvation, whose beginning cannot be but difficult.”
– Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue
The education of youths has been part of Benedictine monasticism from its earliest days. The order, stability and balance of the monastic community offer a unique environment for the training of seminarians: both young and old.
The principal apostolic work of our community is the operation and maintenance of the minor and major seminaries. Beginning with grades 8 through 12 and offering an initial Spirituality Year and then four years of College and four years of Theology, the Seminary of Christ the King offers fourteen years of formation and education.
Fostering vocations among teenagers and adults for the holy priesthood is the Abbey’s special service to the Church and it fits in well with community life. In fact, the interaction between the seminary and monastery communities has been fruitful in many ways. The seminarians work closely with the monks in washing dishes and in doing regular Saturday cleaning chores. They learn that priesthood is about humble and generous service, a valuable preparation for the complex and sometimes untidy reality of parish life and ministry. They see their teachers outside the classroom and learn to appreciate them as men consecrated to God who know how to work with their hearts, hands and minds.
The stability of the monastic community means that alumni returning to visit after many years still find familiar faces and an opportunity to reconnect about old times. Seminarians likewise see priesthood lived out in all stages, from recently ordained members of our community, to those in their prime, to those who are bearing the infirmities of old age. SCK can also boast of a tradition, of passing on values and customs over a series of generations, possible because of a continuity of monastic and seminary leadership since 1939.
Perhaps of greatest significance for young men in our seminary program is the reality of a lived liturgy. The rhythm of daily life at Westminster Abbey and the Seminary of Christ the King is determined by the liturgical seasons and daily celebration of Conventual (Community) Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. Seminarians, sometimes for the first time in their lives, experience a sobriety and solemnity in the Roman liturgy which profoundly shapes them in their appreciation of divine worship. The drama and beauty of the Holy Week liturgy, culminating in the Easter Vigil, draws them into the Paschal Mystery, driving home the wonder of Christ’s redemptive work and our insertion into that reality. Benedictines did not invent the Liturgy, but our charism as custodians of the Sacred Mysteries puts us in a privileged place to form men as priests who will dedicate themselves to the worship of God, to their personal sanctification, to the salvation of souls so that God may be glorified in all things. We thank God for the apostolate of forming priests after the heart of Jesus and invoke his blessing upon our seminarians, alumni and benefactors.