Archbishop of St. Louis Raymond L. Burke will ordain nine men to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Louis on Saturday at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.
It is the largest ordination class for the archdiocese since 1987.
Some credit Archbishop Burke for the boom in seminarians. A frequent visitor to the seminary, the archbishop sometimes drops by unannounced for lunches with the students.
"He's the center and the core of this whole thing," archdiocesan vocations director Rev. Michael Butler said to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Archbishop Burke explained that he decided vocations would be one of his priorities.
"A bishop's principal responsibility is to provide priests for the people in his pastoral care," the archbishop said in an interview last week from Rome. "Ordinations have to be absolutely right at the top of my priorities."
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported that Archbishop Burke has a habit of inviting each student at the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary for a walk near his residence. “The walks,” as the seminarians call them, are opportunities for the young men to have heart-to-heart talks with their archbishop.
Seminary officials organize the walks using time sheets. When new sheets are posted, seminarians rush to sign up.
“It's like when you throw pellets at the Japanese fish at the Botanical Gardens," said ordinand Edward Nemeth, 26. "Guys falling over each other to get their names on the list.”
There are more than 100 men enrolled at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, more than half of whom are studying to be priests for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Monsignor Ted Wojcicki, president of the seminary, said he hopes to enroll 120 students next year.
All of the ordinands have earned master of divinity degrees and master of arts degrees in theology from Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.