Thursday, October 28, 2004

I just got back today from a visit to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, in Philadelphia -- where Fr. Tharp and I met. I will admit, I did not leave the seminary with good feelings. I thought, for a variety of reasons, that they were very screwed up, psychologically. In fact, it took me nearly a year to go back there, and even then I had sickening feelings.

However, I have several friends studying there (including a truly wonderful deacon who, God willing, will be a wonderful addition to the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City), and they have been asking when I would come, now as a priest alumni, to visit them. So I spent my one "over-night" per month to visit the little troopers at the seminary. Ahhhh, it was just like I never left -- They treated me like crap while I was there, and they still do.

When Fr. Tharp visits the seminary, they place him in a suite in the faculty wing. They give him a sitting room with a TV, a fully stock refrig (yes, even with booze), and a beautiful fruit basket. When I arrived yesterday I was told I would be staying in the dormitory (actually in the room right next to Fr. Tharp's old room), on the 4th floor. They told me that they did not have a key for me, but the room would be open. When I got to Vianney Hall (the dorm for theologians) I discovered that the elevator has been out of service for over a month. Offering it up for sinners, I started the long march up to the 4th floor from the basement. Huffing and puffing I get up there only to find that the door is locked. So it is back downstairs to get security to open it up. Then when I get back up to the 4th floor (Oh yeah, I'm carrying a suit bag and a small duffle bag) and security lets me in I find that the bed has been slept in, and used (dirty) towels are on the bathroom floor. I leave my bags, and it is back downstairs to see if I can at least get some clean linens, even if they will not make up the room. When the seminarian guest master (a friend) hears of this, he blows a gasket and gets me switched to the retreat master suite (OK, no TV, refrig or fruit basket, but at least a sitting room and clean linens). I had asked that housekeeping, since I did not have a key to Rm 430, leave the room unlock. I go up there to get my things to take them to the suite on the 2nd floor only to find that they have locked 430 so I cannot get my bags. It is back to security, get my bags, take them to 201-202 and then off to celebrate Mass. On my way to Mass they tell me that they have made a mistake and I cannot stay in the suite so it is back up to 430, still without a key.

While they did allow me to concelebrate, it was far cry from the warm welcome that Fr. Tharp receives. Well, ... I tried to "kiss and make up" with the place. It makes me sick to visit. Next time I will just meet my friends and fellow Trenton seminarians someplace close and buy they fancy coffees to drink as we visit. I just have to warn another close friend of mine not to go back to the seminary. While they did not like me, they made him their "whipping boy." He is now, thank God a priest, but if he goes back there I fear how they would treat him, based on how they treated me, whom they merely disliked.

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