Any parent who has saved or paid for a child’s higher education knows that learning doesn’t come cheap.

That remains the case for the Diocese of Honolulu to support its seminarians through the coursework and degrees that will make them Hawaii’s future priests.

It costs roughly $40,000 a year per seminarian during their four years of post-graduate theology study, according to Father Rheo Olfasa, the diocese’s vocations director. (By comparison, tuition, room and board for the University of Notre Dame is more than $60,000 a year).

Those seminarians who enter formation at the undergraduate college level are responsible for paying for their own bachelor’s degree tuition, though the diocese can loan the funds. Mount Angel Seminary costs $34,528 a year for tuition, room and board.

Those entering the seminary who already have a college degree have to take two years of pre-theology (philosophy), the cost of which the diocese covers.

With nine seminarians currently in their pre-theology or theology studies, that’s about $360,000 a year in tuition alone the diocese pays.

To help cover those costs, the Vocations Office holds an annual Seminarian Education Fund appeal, which aims to offset the cost of seminarian tuition.

This year’s seminarian second collection takes place July 21-22. The appeal amassed $135,000 in 2017-2018.

“That’s really the generosity of our parishioners,” said Lisa Sakamoto, the diocesan finance officer.

But the appeal doesn’t fully cover tuition expenses or other costs like seminarian books, medical insurance, a $400 monthly stipend, one round trip flight a year to and from school, and the general expenses of operating the vocations office.

Those costs have to come out of other areas of the diocesan budget. For the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the diocese will tap into a With Grateful Hearts vocations endowment that was just recently fully funded. And parish assessments help as well. But there’s still a deficit, Sakamoto and Father Olfasa said.

So the appeal is essential and even further generosity toward it would help cover more seminarian costs, Father Olfasa added.

Full story at Hawaii Catholic Herald.