By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
WYNNEWOOD – Just when he needed it most, the goodness of the faithful of the Philadelphia Archdiocese came through for Charles Ravert, a seminarian at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.
In this case, it was early winter when he was notified he had been named the recipient of a $6,000 scholarship from the parishioners of SS. Simon and Jude Parish in West Chester, Chester County.
“I was speechless,” said 21-year-old Ravert, a third-college seminarian. “I’m very grateful that SS. Simon and Jude would want to support a seminarian in that way. All the money that I paid out in the beginning of the year was reimbursed.”
The timing could not have been better, Ravert said. Since last fall and winter, his family has had substantial financial obligations to meet; meanwhile, his single mother continues to work three jobs.
“My mom and I had been praying fervently,” Ravert said, that the Lord would help provide. Receiving a scholarship – and one of such significance – “was the furthest thing from my mind,” he added.
“It’s a way of God’s providence showing that He does want me to be here,” said Ravert, who first heard a call to the priesthood in the fourth grade.
Ravert’s home parish is St. John the Baptist in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia. He graduated from St. John the Baptist School in 2002 and from Mercy Vocational High School in Philadelphia in 2006.
College spanision seminarians studying for the Philadelphia Archdiocese currently pay $6,000 annually toward their $22,237 yearly tuition, room and board; the remainder is covered through the seminary’s scholarship fund.
Theology spanision seminarians studying for the Philadelphia Archdiocese receive a full scholarship for their $23,636 annual tuition, room and board from the seminary’s scholarship fund.
Receiving such a significant scholarship in the midst of the country’s economic recession showed the seminarian how God can provide through “the charity and the love that He puts into people’s hearts,” Ravert said. “The way they express their love, which is ultimately God’s love, that’s the way that we come to see God.”
Not only does Ravert appreciate the money, he is thankful for the moral support, thoughts and prayers that accompany it, he said.
In a letter of thanks to the parishioners of SS. Simon and Jude and to the pastor, Msgr. Francis W. Beach, Ravert assured everyone of his prayers and asked that they continue to pray for him “that I may do nothing else than the will of God.”
SS. Simon and Jude became a tithing parish two years ago, Msgr. Beach said. “There was a commitment made at that time that we would tithe on the tithe,” he added.
As a result, 10 percent of the parish’s tithe is allocated to local, national and international causes, the pastor said.
When a member of the tithing committee suggested the parish increase its financial support to St. Charles Seminary by sponsoring a scholarship for a seminarian in need, other committee members and the pastor agreed.
“I just know that these people love their priests,” Msgr. Beach said of his parishioners. “They love seminarians.”
The parishioners of SS. Simon and Jude “faithfully pray” for more priests, including from their own parish, Msgr. Beach said. Presently, the parish’s sole seminarian is Jason Buck, a pre-theology I seminarian at St. Charles.
In fact, an increase in vocations to the priesthood is one of the petitions parishioners are asked to pray when they visit the parish’s perpetual Eucharistic Adoration chapel.
“Our people are really proud there is a seminarian preparing for the priesthood that they have the opportunity to assist and, with God’s grace, he will be a priest serving the Church for many years,” Msgr. Beach said.
Ravert is also grateful to the seminary’s rector, Msgr. Joseph G. Prior, who selected him as the scholarship recipient. “For him to think of me as worthy enough” is humbling, he said.
The rector said he is impressed the idea came from the parish. “I’m just grateful to Msgr. Beach and to the parish for their support,” Msgr. Prior said. “It speaks volumes for their love for the Church, the Eucharist and the priesthood. It says that they see the importance of priestly vocations.”
The rector also appreciates how the scholarship supports Ravert as a seminarian. “We’re all one Church,” Msgr. Prior said. The generosity of SS. Simon and Jude Parish personally communicates to Ravert “that they are willing to help him do what he needs to do to be formed into a good priest,” added the rector.
To contribute to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary’s scholarship fund or for more information, call the seminary at (610) 785-6231, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or send standard correspondence to the Office for Institutional Advancement at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, 100 E. Wynnewood Road, Wynnewood, PA 19096.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or email@example.com.