Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 125 - The Mystery of the St. Mary's Seminary

 Fibonacci c1175-1250. Leonardo Fibonacci c1175-1250.
I grew up in a town where there was a catholic seminary called St. Mary's. St. Mary's was built in 1868 and was home to the Redemptorous Fathers.   It was a castle-like building that had land that they allowed local teachers to use to help students learn about nature.  I remember in science class in eighth grade, we had been granted permission to walk along their nature walks.  There we were taught how to really appreciate nature.  It was on these walks that our teacher would point out different wildflowers that I hadn't noticed before.  I learned about the bleeding heart, foxglove and many more that I can't remember.  We were shown how to taste honeysuckle.  It was here that I gained my love of wildflowers.

Sometimes the right thing to do is press these marvelous creations of God and glue them to paper.  They make great bookmarks, gift cards and can be framed to preserve their natural beauty.  We were shown how wildflowers have flowers in series of either 3's, 5's or 8's.  By counting the petals on a wildflower you could narrow down which family it belonged. There was math in nature. [Its known as the Fibonacci Numbers.] I so appreciated its beauty that sometimes during the summer, I would walk back there on my own.  There was a path that runners would take in the early mornings that the public was granted to use.  I remember walking and hearing the sound of  little boys laughing.  A LOT of little boys.  It seemed to be coming from the St. Mary's Seminary.

I asked someone about this later and was told that they were the boys from the Dominican Republic.  I was quite perplexed.  Why would a seminary of celibate men who were studying to be priests invite thirty or more young boys who didn't speak the language to a foreign country to stay in a seminary for men?  The boys were swimming and splashing in the pool.  And I still think about those boys and what the Catholic Church has covered up for years.  Abuse beyond belief that continues to confuse my faith.  I was born Catholic, raised protestant, confirmed Catholic in college and raised my sons Catholic.  I warned them about priests and was with them during their first confession.  In fact I went with my oldest son when he was six and had MY first confession.

It was my last confession also.  The priest was adamant that I tell him the WORST thing I had ever done.  I told him probably having premarital sex.  He acted surprise.  That's it.  You are here at the age of thirty and that is the Worst?  He asked a second time, "That's it?  There isn't ANYTHING you've done that's worse than that?"  I told him no.  He told me to go say 10 Hail Marys.  I thought to myself, is this what the priests do to these young boys?  Get them to confess their worst sins and then use it against them later?  The whole thing was weird and I still don't understand it.  I have always confessed to God directly and don't feel I need another "human" to hear it.  God is omnipresent and hears all things.

St. Marys 1868-1991 North East PA
The seminary had a fire in the ninety's and everything but the church and the altar burned down.  The local Mercyhurst College bought it in 1991 and it now is a NJCAA college.  The Redemptorous Fathers sold it to Mercyhurst for $1.9 million dollars.  Their motto of the Father's Congregation – Copiosa Apud Eum Redemptio – means: “With Him there is Plentiful Redemption”. The question remains, was $1.9 million enough to redeem the priests of St. Mary's.  Unlike the science we were taught while counting the petals of wildflowers, there is no number that will help to identify what family catholic priests who abuse innocent children belong to. There is no divine number as it is not of God.

Fibonacci, or more correctly Leonardo da Pisa, was born in Pisa in 1175AD.

Fibonacci sequence

Fibonacci is perhaps best known for a simple series of numbers, introduced in Liber abaci and later named the Fibonacci numbers in his honour. The series begins with 0 and 1. After that, use the simple rule:
Add the last two numbers to get the next.
1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987,...

Is it coincidence that daisies have 34, 55 or 89 petals?


  1. The "boys" were seminarians who wanted to become priest or at the moment were searching their faith. These boys came from North East, Pa. Brooklyn, South Carolina, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Georgia...Places were the Redemtorists (Missionaries) were established. St Mary’s was their minor seminary from which you would proceed to St Alphonsus Coll. and continue to the priesthood. The Dominican boys were not brought for anyone’s pleasure or entertainment but for a matter of personal choice and faith.
    Grateful for you concern, I have added this lines of information and illustration of OUR reality as seminarians. I studied there at St. Alphonsus College decided my vocation was in another direction, but I am grateful for the values and standards of living I was trained to fallow (by choice).

    1. Excellent! We always wanted to know. I would love to hear more from other boys who attended there. If you know of any, please tell them to add their post here as well. Would you be so kind to share the ages of them. I'm not sure I understand how "boys" at what appeared to be ages 9 or less were making a "personal choice" to travel by themselves to a foreign country but will take your word for it

  2. Being of a different ethnic group age and physical appearance may not match to some of us. But I assure you that we were all in age to be at high school and comply with laws and regulations of the State of Pennsylvania and our host town of North East. You can google the group of ex-students from St. Mary’s Seminary. I believe in town, at the library, you can find copies of the Alphontian, and in it there are pictures and names of each class as they came in.

  3. I'm not sure why the adverse reaction here, I just wanted to know (remember we were children too at that time) what ages were the boys who came from Dominican Republic? This is not a "different ethnic" issue at all. This is not an issue of "physical appearance" This is not an issue of "legality" I was just asking a question. We didn't know this was a seminary for children were told this was only for "men" meaning over 18 years old. so again I ask in naivety...what were the ages of the boys who came from Dominican all altruistic honesty of the question.

  4. I'd like to hear from anyone who attended during this time here is one story...“To go to St. Mary’s, traveling hundreds of miles from home at the tender age of thirteen, was the adventure of a lifetime, a formative experience that one never forgets,” said Father Patrick Woods, a North East graduate and former seminary professor, now the provincial superior. “The strangers we met in those first lonely days may well have become our best friends for life.

    “Almost all who attend this seminary would gratefully point to that experience as one of the most important times of their lives. That’s why we come back to this place of our memories. This alma mater prepared us so well for the journeys we would take in life.

    “I offer my deepest thanks Mercyhurst North East and Dr. Gary Brown for welcoming us home,” Father Woods said.

    1. Why are you surprised with the adverse reaction? Your words speak for themselv....”was 1.9 million enough to redeem the priests of St. Mary’s”. You aren’t just asking a are accusing. I called St. Mary’s my home from 1981-1985. They remain some of the best years in my life. It was a high school Seminary. The boys who attended ranged in age from 13 to 18 years. As a former Prosecutor I have followed the Catholic Church abuse scandal with interest and very closely. I am not aware and can not find indication of a single incidence of sexual abuse by a Redemptorist Father against a student at St. Mary’s in its more than 100 years of existence. St. Mary’s did indeed well prepare me for the journey I have taken in life. I remember my time there, the friends I made and the Redmeptorists who taught me with fondness and love.
      Anthony J. McDonald, SMS 85

  5. My husband was a student at St. Mary´s at the age of 14 years. He spent three years there which he regards as very memorable. We are from Puerto Rico and he recalls great experiences with his classmates from US and other latin countries. He has never mentioned any abuse from the priests or any other person while living there. We are planning a visit to the current site this year.