Throughout the pandemic, the health, safety and well-being of our seminarians, faculty and staff has been our top priority. Last March, students returned to their home dioceses to complete the spring semester through online learning. As we prepared to welcome the seminarian community back to campus for the fall semester, numerous protocols were implemented to ensure that we could continue our vital mission of forming your future parish priests. Here are just a few of the guidelines currently in place:
- Our campus is a closed community, in which students are essentially sheltering in place with their brother seminarians. They rarely leave campus, but if they do, they wear a mask and observe all social distancing requirements when interacting with others outside of the seminary community.
- Out of an abundance of caution, everyone on campus wears masks when indoors—at Mass, in class, and in other campus buildings. Each seminarian is also responsible for cleaning and sanitizing any shared space after completing their use of it. The university’s environmental services team has also been extra diligent about cleaning these shared spaces between uses.
- The Tolton Teaching Parish Program, which assigns seminarians to parishes around the Chicago area for essential pastoral experiences, has been moved almost completely online, with seminarians leading virtual Bible studies, RCIA sessions, youth ministry gatherings, Sunday School classes and more. If a seminarian is ever present at a parish, he is required to wear a mask at all times, adhere to social distancing requirements, and observe any other protocols instituted by the parish.
- Any seminarian who is experiencing symptoms is immediately quarantined and tested for COVID-19, which kicks off another set of protocols for how we deal with a confirmed case.
Thus far we have been blessed to have no confirmed cases among our seminarian student body. Please join us in prayer for the continued health of our community, for those who are suffering from the virus around the world, and for the repose of the souls of all COVID-19 victims. Saint Mary of the Lake, pray for us.