Diocesan News

Seminary board increases as mission, facility set to expand

By Dominic Winter

SEWARD (SNR) – The Board of Trustees of St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward met Oct. 12 and welcomed three new members to the board. The addition of Father Mark Cyza, Aaron May, and Carolyn May, increased the board from 10 members in January to the 12 at this meeting.

The extra board members reflect adjustments in the board’s procedure, including revised bylaws and articles of incorporation. New board members are now nominated by any of the board members, approved by the bishop, then elected by the entire Board of Trustees. Father Jeffrey Eickhoff, the seminary rector and president of the Board, said this would allow “greater oversight and government in the functions of the board and the seminary.”

This oversight includes greater involvement from the now four lay members. An example of this in a previous meeting was the suggestion to change the mission statement of the seminary. Now, instead of limiting the mission to those who actually become priests, the seminary seeks to form men as Christian disciples discerning the priesthood.

“Lay members suggested that the mission of the seminary is successful when it produces good leaders in the parishes from those who discern their vocations are not to the priesthood,” Father Eickhoff said.

The recent board meeting first dealt with orientation for the new members and with developing a board handbook. That being done, Father Jeffrey Eickhoff made his report and the board members discussed finances, new hires, staff management and benefits, past developments, and the record 55 seminarians at St. Gregory the Great.

The greater number of students presents a need for space, since the seminary can currently hold only 58 students. The board settled on a new wing of dormitory rooms as the newest expansion.

The seminary board meets three times a year and is led by four permanent members: Bishop James Conley as chairman; the seminary rector as president; and two other priests, Msgr. Timothy Thorburn and Father Daniel Rayer, as vice chair and secretary-treasurer, respectively. Msgr. Thorburn is vicar general for the Diocese of Lincoln, and Father Rayer is chancellor.

Father Mark Cyza, who was ordained a priest in 2004, graduated from St. Gregory the Great Seminary in 2000, and is the first alumnus of St. Gregory’s to be on the seminary board.

“Being an alumnus, I can talk about my own experiences I had while I was there,” Father Cyza said. “I can have those insights from a different perspective from the other members.”

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