You might be asking yourself, what exactly is seminary crashing? Is that even a real thing? Are you off your meds, again?
(Editor’s Note: Answer the question. We can’t afford another Helsinki Incident.)
Anyway, you may have seen the movie, “The Wedding Crashers”. If you haven’t, seminary crashing is virtually identical; you attend an event (in this case a seminary come and see retreat) without really having any real interest in entering that seminary. And perhaps you have no real interesting in a religious vocation as well. The important part here is the disinterest in that particular place.
Why would someone do this? Well, not all seminaries are in drab locations. New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Chicago…people crash these events for two simple words: paid vacation. These seminaries (more often than not) are in desperate need for more vocations, and now is a great way to capitalize on that desperation. Most places, in fact, might even pay the airfare for you to travel to see them! Where else is that possible?
WIth that in mind, allow me to share some wisdom for you about how to successfully crash your first seminary.
- Thou shalt not crash a seminary in a parish run order: This one should be a no brainer. If your parish is run by the Congregation of Holy Cross, guess what? DON’T CRASH MOREAU SEMINARY AT NOTRE DAME. Sure it’s tempting. Sure it could mean free Irish football tickets. But as the old saying goes, “don’t poop where you eat”. That should be a lesson for us all.
- Thou shalt not act holier than thou: While you don’t want to draw more attention to yourself than you should, you also shouldn’t give the vocation director a bad impression of you. LIkewise, don’t go overboard and have him want to recruit you too strongly. You have to find a delicate balance to get return invites and keep up the charade.
- Thou shalt not destroy property: This, too, should go without saying, and goes with 2 above. Don’t destroy property. Be a respectful guest.
- Thou shalt bring holy literature: But don’t bring a Bible. Everyone brings it and it’s not like seminaries DON’T have one or two lying around already. Instead, bring a copy of the Liturgy of the Hours. Vocation Directors LOVE this. This will leave the exact right impression and will surely get you a return invite for their next invite.
- Thou shalt not add Vocation Directors on Social Media: We live in a world where more and more we are connected to one another. Eventually, you are going to want to tag yourself at some fancy local. What happens when a Vocation Director from another seminary sees you at another seminary? You could lose quickly both invites for future events from those seminaries. Play it safe.
- Be the soul of the prayer group: Whenever you’re about to pray as a group, take charge. Priests are supposed to be leaders in their churches, so show them what you’re made of and be willing to lead the first decade. PROTIP: Tell them your Jerusalem wood rosary is so smooth and shiny because your hand oils have routinely polished it from all your many prayers.
- Always Be Closing (To get that invitation): You have to sell yourself. These seminary retreats can be harder to get into than your typical wedding. Do you know why that is? The Vocation Director. He has a relationship with all those in formation (regardless if they want a free trip or have a serious calling) plus the retreats themselves are usually fairly small. Interlopers easily stand out. A great way to close to get that invite is to research the order and their founding saint. What? Their Diocesan? Easy. Tell them you devoured “How to Save a Thousand Souls.”
So there you have it; the 7 commandments to crashing a seminary. Now that you know these rules, you are now tasked with a great responsibility; don’t overdo it. Don’t misuse them. These work best once or twice a year, max. So have fun, be safe, pack your Divine Office. Who knows, maybe you’ll be surprised where it takes you…