Divine Heart Seminary


Divine Heart Seminary
My mother Carmen and me. 1971

I attended Divine Heart Seminary in Donaldson, Indiana, despite my protests. It all started when I was in the seventh grade at Holy Cross School. Two seminaries, Divine Heart Seminary and Divine Word Seminary, sent priests to talk to the boys about vocations. When I was thirteen, I thought I might be interested in becoming a priest. After all, I attended mass almost everyday. My father and all his brothers attended a seminary in Montezuma, New Mexico. My aunt was a nun, and two of my uncles were priests. But I had my doubts about the priesthood because I would have to take vows of obedience, poverty, and celibacy. Celibacy? Now wait a minute. The vow of celibacy was my main stumbling block. I knew that someday I would like to have children. Anyway, I gave both priests my name because I said I might be interested in the priesthood. Then, I forgot all about their visit.

In the eighth grade, Divine Heart Seminary called me to see if I wanted to visit their campus. They would come to my house to pick me up and drive me all the way to Donaldson, Indiana. How could I say no? Before I went to visit DHS, I truly wondered if I wanted to become a priest. I was an altar boy then and a very devout Catholic, but I did have my mischievous side. Overall, I considered myself a good person.

At the Divine Heart, I saw how the seminarians lived. I spent one weekend there and got a taste of seminary life. I slept in the dorm where I would sleep as a freshman and I got a tour of the campus with the “big brother” that I was assigned. I got to see how real seminarians lived! Well, I was disillusioned by the seminary life. I didn’t think that potential future priests should behave like these seminarians.

At Holy Cross, I was taught that just about everything was a sin: swearing, smoking, playing pool, etc. Well, I was shocked to hear the boys swearing when their were no priests or brothers present! And they were going to be priests? Then, my big brother showed me the smoking lounge. These boys were allowed to smoke? I thought smoking was a sin. But my biggest shock of all was that they had pools tables! Not one or two pool tables, but many pool tables. In fact, there were several rooms that were exclusively reserved for playing pool. At that moment, I decided that future priests should not behave like these seminarians. I absolutely knew that I would not attend this seminary because they lived sinful lives.

Later, when I had forgotten all about my visit to Divine Heart Seminary, Sister Cecilia, the principal, called me outside of the classroom to talk to me. I thought I was in trouble for something I did. She told me that DHS called and wanted to know if I was still interested in attending their seminary. I immediately told her, “No.” She said, “You’re just too shy to admit it.” We went back into the classroom, I sat down, and she addressed the class, “Well, boys and girls, you are all very fortunate! David has received a vocation. He will become a priest someday! Next year, David will be attending Divine Heart Seminary in Indiana.”

Well, that little announcement truly changed my life forever. I sure didn’t want to attend any seminary, let alone Divine Heart Seminary. Soon, my classmates started calling me Father David. In the neighborhood, the kids would see me coming and mutter under their breath, “Watch what you say. Here comes the priest.” The girl I really liked in the class lost all interest in me. The next morning when I served mass as an altar boy, Father Gilbert congratulated me on my vocation. I told him that I didn’t want to become a priest, but he didn’t believe me and said that I was just being modest.

I told my father about what had happened to me with the seminary. That’s when I learned he, too, had attended a seminary for many years. He was actually proud of the fact that I would also attend a seminary. When my mother found out about my “vocation,” she told me that she was so proud of me. No one would listen to me! I didn’t want to attend Divine Heart Seminary. I had narrowed down my choices for high school to Leo High School or De La Salle High School. Try as I might not to attend DHS, I was forced to attend DHS. Before I even started school there, I had already made up my mind that I would never become a priest. Yet everyone was so proud of me and the fact that I would attend Divine Heart Seminary!

David Diego RodrĂ­guez, Ph.D.
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