Catholic Extension matching grant helps seminarian education

By Father Matthew Simmons
Catholic Extension Society has again offered to include the Diocese of Jackson in the Seminarian Endowment Challenge. In 2013, Catholic Extension matched $25,000 the diocese raised through contributions of individuals for a total of $50,000. This year, the organization will give the diocese up to $25,000 to match $75,000 to be raised in new donations.
The new donations factor is key. Donations by new donors of $1000 or more qualify for the matching funds. If someone gave a gift to the Seminarian Endowment Challenge in 2013 of $1,000 or more, that donor would need to give the same amount given in 2013 plus an additional $1,000. For example, if one gave $1,000, that individual would need to give $2,000 this year in order for the donation to count towards the matching goal.
Although we are very grateful to the various groups in the diocese such as the Knights of Columbus who annually make large donations towards the education of priests, in order to secure this grant from the Extension Society, these donations must come from individuals. The goal of this challenge is to get individuals involved in the support of seminarian education. Donors can spread their gift out throughout the year, but the total must be received before Dec. 31. The donations will be placed in the Catholic Extension Mission Diocese Fund to be used by the Diocese of Jackson for seminarian education.
During the most recent school year, our diocese paid $392,000 to the seminaries in Louisiana for the education of our 10 seminarians. All dioceses in the United States pay for the entirety of a seminarian’s education at the graduate level.
The Diocese of Jackson pays for half of a seminarian’s expenses at the undergraduate level. This is the standard practice for dioceses in this region. By doing so, the diocese makes the cost of undergraduate seminary education roughly equal to that of a state university. Seminary formation is considerably more expensive than a traditional college because the academic component is only one part of a seminarian’s formation. A man in seminary has regular meetings with his priest spiritual director and formation advisor. He has a yearly evaluation with the formation team of the seminary and the diocesan vocation director. He participates in supervised ministry as well as in workshops in pastoral ministry, Catholic spirituality, celibacy and personal health.
For the Seminarian Endowment Challenge, checks can be made out to the Diocese of Jackson; in the notation area of the check mention, “Seminarian Endowment Challenge.” Donations and enquiries can be sent to Father Matthew Simmons, P.O. Box 2248, Jackson, MS 39225-2248. Father Simmons can also be contacted at or (601)960-8484.
Donors will receive an acknowledgement thanking them for their contribution. We are grateful for all donations for the education of future priests.
(Father Matthew Simmons is the director of Vocations for the Diocese of Jackson.)