2013-05-09 / Columns

News & Reviews

By Edward F. Keller, D.D.S.
1732 Golf Drive Bismarck, ND 58503

Silence

Half of my four years of high school and one semester of college at my Ohio and Indiana seminary boarding school from 1941-1946, was spent in silence. Silence meant not talking… hush, peace, serenity and quiet. Only emergency whispers and hand gestures were permitted. My superiors demanded silence to stimulate self-discipline good for the mind and soul.

We observed silence from 8:30 p.m. night prayers through study hall, dormitory, morning Mass and breakfast, until 8 a.m. The second Sunday of each month was Silence Sunday. No talking was permitted until 3 p.m. The annual three day retreat in February, filled with prayer, meditation and conferences, warranted only two daily half hour talking periods.

Most all meal times were in silence. During meals, students took their turn, reading to the entire refectory of students, priests and brothers from books as “The Lives of the Saints” and other worthy non-fiction. This reading exercise served for interesting listening and fair scrutiny of the readers. (My German accent was interesting to some.)

Silence during the summer months never altered. Summers were devoted to working the 450 acre farm and cleaning the living quarters. However, two daily ninety minute reading study hall were observed… one after breakfast and the other before bed time.

Of the 50 students that began each freshman class in September the Priesthood study course existed of four years of high school… then four years of college philosophy and then four years of major seminary. Of the 50 that started, about six were ordained priests after 12 years. The rest dropped out along the way… but no loss to anybody who dropped out… many continued their school in many different professions… all had a great schooling foundation.

Till next time.

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