by Father Mark Goldasich
Did you know that I’m one of the million dollar babies?
The number refers to the cost of educating some of us priests from the archdiocese — from the time we were students at Savior of the World Seminary for high school, through four years of college and then four years of theology prior to being ordained. Now, I have no idea of how accurate that figure is, but I preferred it to the other moniker bestowed upon us in my later seminary days: “lifers” (meaning we’d been in the seminary since high school).
I almost didn’t make it to being a million dollar baby. Heck, I almost didn’t make it to being a $5 baby. That’s because I almost left Savior after a week or two. In a nutshell, I was incredibly homesick. I know it sounds silly, because I was only about 19 miles from home. But I was an only child and had lived a pretty sheltered life.
Although I tried to hide my tears, one faculty member — Father Al Rockers — saw them and took me aside one day to a little conference room for a chat. His gentle manner helped me to open up. He asked if I liked being at Savior and I told him I did. However, the being away from home was getting to me. He told me not to be embarrassed to be homesick because it meant that I had parents that I loved and missed. He then gave me some practical advice on how to deal with the homesickness and told me he was always available to talk.
Well, his advice did the trick, my homesickness diminished and I spent all four years at Savior. This year, incredibly, Savior of the World Seminary/Pastoral Center is 50 years old. To celebrate that milestone, check out page 5 of this issue for a story on Savior “from the inside” — reflections from some former faculty members and from a couple of other million dollar babies. They cover a lot of what was so impressive and meaningful about Savior for a lot of us.
As I reflect on my Savior days, the growing that I did there was significant. I entered Savior in 1969 as the only freshman from my parish, somewhat scared and lonely; I left in 1973 with many great friends that I still keep in touch with today. (And it’s ever better with Facebook!)
I came to Savior a picky, picky eater. Inheriting the taste buds of my mom, I just knew that I didn’t like cheese or salads or pizza or vegetables or mustard or pickles or … well, you name it. That pickiness lasted for a couple of weeks — remember, we lived at the seminary from Sunday to Friday — until I was so hungry, I ate my first-ever grilled cheese sandwich at age 13 (honestly). I found out it was tasty! From that point on, my pickiness vanished — I guess I’d inherited Dad’s taste buds, after all — and, with the exception of a few food items, I’ll eat anything today.
Believe it or not, I was at one time rather shy and quiet. You can blame all of the plays that I was in and all of the forensics at Savior for helping me find my voice, which has pretty much continued nonstop since then.
Most importantly, though, were the people who were associated with Savior. In addition to the wonderful priests on the faculty, we had plenty of role models among the laity who taught or worked at the seminary. We could look to people like Bob Runnebaum, Jim Enneking, Herb Sanchez and Steve Knight for examples of how to be a good Catholic man.
Although an all-boys school, we learned how to value and respect women in our interactions with Benedictine Sisters Rose Ellen and Mary Blaise, Sister of Charity Shirley Ann and Barbara Summerson. We learned courtesy and kindness from the secretaries and from Frances, who worked in the library.
We were taught lessons of service and hospitality from the kitchen staff of Bernice, Doris, Joyce and Roy. And we learned how to work hard from John and Lester, the maintenance staff.
It was a privilege to be part of this special place of formation, faith and friendship.
On a lighter note, I also learned to never say never. When I graduated from Savior, I thought, “I’ll never see this place again.” Want to guess where the offices of The Leaven are? Yes, God does have a great sense of humor.