The seminary driveway - it wasn't sealed back then
Mt. St. Marys,
Sun. 18th Feb. ‘68
Dear Mum & Dad,
Well, I have lasted a week! It seems to have gone very quickly because you are always kept busy. My main subject this year, and for my 3rd year also, is Philosophy. Fr. Bonisch takes us & it is very difficult. Apparently you don’t find out what it’s about until you’ve been studying it for a while, so I’ll have to keep trying. My other subjects are English (which I am doing through Massey & not going to English classes with the others), Sociology with Fr. Arbuckle, Scripture with Fr. O’Mehegan, Biblical Antiquities with Fr. Flanagan and Experimental Psychology with Fr. Weaver. (There is another boy in my band, John Owens, who is also doing English through correspondence). You are left to your own a lot, there being no prefects, etc, and can study in your room until it gets dark, when you have to go to the classroom.
There were 16 boys in my band to begin with. One Tongan has not as yet arrived. (Gary Beveridge broke the record by lasting 2 ½ days!) There are three other Tongan boys & one Samoan. One boy, Chris Eastwood has got his B.E. It is his second attempt at the Seminary.
The Monitor (or head student – the oldest one in the top band) is Michael McVerry. Apparently he was Rick’s table prefect in his last year. He’s to be ordained this year.
Here is a complete programme of a typical day:-
At 5.30 a.m. the bell man sings some Gregorian Chant & then rings the bell. At 5.50 a.m. we have a type of “long-morning-offering”. We go to Chapel & go over what we are going to do that day & how, etc. Then after official morning prayers we have Mass - concelebrated, and sung on Sundays – which is in either Latin or English depending on the day. At about 7.30 a.m. we have breakfast after which we are free until 8.30 a.m. We then start classes of which there are 3, & one study period, lasting for 50 minutes. After 2 lectures we have a 20 minute break. These breaks are very different from ordinary college, because groups of 3 students go for a walk up the drive & back usually & the good thing is that the whole Community is mixed, so one group may be a 7th year, a 6th year & a first year.
After the fourth and final lecture we have what is called “Particular Examine” or “P.E.”, when everyone goes into Chapel & “examines” themselves to see how they’re getting on – how they’ve done so far that day. At 12.30 p.m. we have lunch.
From one till 1/4 to 4 we are free (except on Wednesdays & Saturdays when manual labour is compulsory). Everyone has his own work to do, so on a typical afternoon you could do gardening, study, bees, sports, or just lying in the sun. Everything is left up to the individual & no one is checked up on – a thing entirely different from college. My official jobs are Book-Binding, organ practising (a difficult but interesting job because there are two keyboards, and foot pedals!) poultry and gardening. The gardens I help look after contain roses galore, so I hope to learn a thing or two about roses. Book-binding will prove to be very useful and interesting I think. They’ve got the works, from guillotines to glue, and the books they’ve bound there in the past are perfect. Poultry (they’ve got 500-700 hens) is not feeding them, but mixing the feed. They feed them elaborately on a special mixture of pollard, barley, wheat, lucerne, meat meal, salt, limestone and maize. Besides mixing we also crush the wheat, maize and barley into a powder. It is all done by machine.
At 4 p.m. until 5.45 p.m. we study, and then we have tea. (At ¼ to four we have afternoon tea). At ¼ to 7 we resume by a visit to the Blessed Sacrament & a Rosary, after which we have Spiritual Reading. This takes us to ¼ to 8. We then study until 9 p.m. when we have Night Prayers and supper. At about 9.20 p.m. we go to bed. At 9.35 p.m. the “Great Silence” begins which lasts until after breakfast the next day. During this you should not talk (or even really pay attention to anyone else) or make too much noise. We read until 10 p.m. when we go to sleep. And that is a typical day.
I seem to have been continually eating since I got here & have just seemed to have caught up with my stomach. Perhaps the same thing happened to Leo – a change of environment and diet.
The O’Sullivans came to Mass here this morning & I was talking to Harvey.
Don’t worry about the connection for my razor (I think I mentioned it). I found one in my room.
We have not got into soutanes yet (I may have told you that too) But the sooner the better for several reasons.
1). Because there is so much changing to do – suit for Mass and Benediction, long sleeves for dining, something different for classes, etc.
2). Because you feel out of place recreating in collar & tie with 50 odd others in Roman collars.
3). Because I want to – all the other Aspirants feel the same! It’s like getting dressed for some fancy dress party. However, as Fr. Mannix said when we got here – get to know where you are first, otherwise we’ll be tripping over everything. Fr Seamus O’Dowd sent me 8 of his old stocks, with a letter. He will be coming out to the Seminary next month I think, and sends his regards to you.
It seems funny in class being referred to as Brother Goodman, or when you say to the lay-brothers “Good morning Brother!” and they answer “Good morning Brother!”; you wonder who on earth they’re talking to!
Well, I think that is all the news. Phew! I think it is the longest letter I have ever written. How are the calves and the new calf man?
Jim Brownlie, a radio enthusiast here, got Fr. Chaney on the radio last night. He asked after me, and sent the message that “Leo is doing fine”.
Apparently everyone has had the same trouble as we did in trying to get a Jerusalem Bible (did you cancel the order from Tillers?) Also, 2 other boys have the identical “Layman’s Missal” including the additional black plastic cover.
Well that is all the news. Don’t forget to send my U.E. Result Card to Massey.