On the evening of Saturday, September 19, more than 550 people gathered on the outdoor grounds of St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park. The occasion was St. Patrick’s Eighth ‘Four Pillars’ Gala, the seminary’s annual fundraiser in support of their mission: forming men for the priesthood of God.

Founded in 1898, St. Patrick’s is currently forming 72 men from the dioceses of Fresno (3), Honolulu (5), Monterey (3), Oakland (11), Orange (6), Reno (2), Salt Lake City (2), Sacramento (9), San Francisco (16), San Jose (10), Santa Rosa (1), and Stockton (4).

The ‘four pillars’ of the seminary are human formation, spiritual formation, intellectual formation, and pastoral formation. The evening’s program describes each pillar as necessary to the final mission “Through human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral development (the seminary) enables Christ-centered men to grow and excel as collaborative, culturally-aware pastoral leaders committed to Jesus and His Church.”

The highlights of the evening, affirming both the mission of the seminary and the impressive quality of the young men being formed, were two addresses to the crowd, the first by the recently ordained Father Pat Summerhays, and the second by transitional Deacon Andrew J. Pacheco.

Father Summerhays described how each of the ‘four pillars’ contributed to his formation as a priest. His description of spiritual formation was especially powerful:  “Spiritual formation, of course, begins by St. Patrick’s Seminary being a Eucharistic community.  Each day begins with Morning Prayer that leads the seminarians right into the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  It is there that we contemplate Jesus the High Priest who emptied himself completely, laying down his life for all of humanity, allowing us to receive him body, blood, soul and divinity.  It is in this spirit or sacrifice and communion that we are later meant to rise each day in rectories, ready to lay down our lives in service for humanity.  The daily Eucharist Adoration, Days of Recollection, Annual Retreats, and Spiritual Direction allow seminarians to learn how to rest in Christ, learning how to say along with St. Paul: ‘[I]n  any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.’”

Deacon Pacheco eloquently described a new project certain to enrich the formation experience of the future priests: the construction of large-scale outdoor Stations of the Cross on the seminary grounds. The seminary hopes to raise at least $10,000 for each Station, and each Station will be accompanied by a bench that will bear the name of the donor. A portion of the cost was pledged at the dinner.

The evening closed with the all seminarians gathering on the broad steps of the school, where they led the guest in singing the Salve Regina. The voices of the seminarians, rising to heaven in praise of Our Blessed Mother, could not help but remind one of Jesus’ promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church.

To help St. Patrick’s Seminary form men for the priesthood, go here and select the “Donate” tab.

To see a video of seminarians walking the proposed route of the outdoor Stations of the Cross, click here. The password to open the video is SPSU.