The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


Students prepare for religious life

“Gannon is a Catholic, Diocesan, student-centered University which provides for the holistic development of undergraduate and graduate students in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

The first sentence of Gannon University’s mission statement, above, serves as a summary for the school’s intents and purposes.

This title of a Catholic, Diocesan school brings to Gannon a group of students not every university can claim to have.

Currently, 22 men – from five dioceses – sharing a common purpose live together at St. Mark’s Seminary in Erie; they are simultaneously earning bachelor’s degrees and going through their first four years of the seminary, or minor seminary.

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Senior philosophy major Jerry Pasnik, in his fourth year of seminary, said living there and spending virtually all of his time with some, or all, of those 21 other men certainly forms a slightly different college experience from the average Gannon student.

He said one difference arises with the very reason they’re at the university. “We have a real focus of what we’re doing at Gannon,” he said.

He was quick to note, however, that there’s no feeling of arrogance or superiority among the seminarians. Rather, he said, being a seminarian is more about having a bigger responsibility to be a good man.

Pasnik said that many aspects of the seminarians’ lives, including their community living, make them nothing more or less than just a unique group of Gannon students.

Pasnik said they come to know each other as brothers after living and working together for so long. “Christ has called us to join the seminary,” Pasnik, who attends St. Mark’s through the Diocese of Buffalo, said. “We’re a family.”

He said that with the close quarters, though, as with any family, comes disagreements and difficult times, but they always get through it.

While in some ways, Pasnik said the seminarians very much resemble ‘regular’ college students, he said several aspects of their lives also set them apart.

For example, he said they are expected to attend daily Mass and go to confession every two to three weeks.

“There’s a higher expectation for us,” he said, “to be men of good prudence, meaning men of good judgment.”

Pasnik also said that seminarians have a bit of a different workload than other Gannon students.

While most students have one matrix to follow, which gives them the course requirements for their majors and minors, he said seminarians have to enough work to complete both their seminary training and their bachelor’s degrees.

He said the seminarians are required to take at least 30 hours of philosophy and 15 hours of theology in their time at Gannon. Therefore, he said most of them – but not all – decide to earn their majors in philosophy and minors in theology.

After minor seminary, Pasnik said, the seminarians – with their new bachelor’s degrees – will move on to their major seminaries of choice. He said the minor seminary – St. Mark’s – is mostly about “developing and forming good men.”

The major seminary, then, is where they will learn most of the logistics of priesthood, such as how to say mass. He said this is also where they will earn their Masters of Divinity degrees.

Though the university’s mission statement clearly provides Gannon’s purpose as a Catholic university, Pasnik says he assumes a different role than that of the average student.

“Christ is calling us to be more men of virtue,” he said, “men of prayer; men of Jesus Christ.”


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