Five candidates for the Roman Catholic pristhood are studying at Memphis Theological Seminary, a Cumberland Presbyterian Church school, in a pioneering effort to create a clergy "indigenous to the area but still not provincial."
The five seminarians are being taught by Catholic, Protestant and Jewish professors assigned to the seminary on a full-time or "adjunct faculty" basis. The diocese does not maintain its own seminary.
"You might say that for the five young men we have training at Memphis Theological, it is a case of on-the-job training because they live in parish rectories and do regular parish chores in conjunction with their attending school," said Sister Frances Bolmonte, head of the Diocesan Theological Office.
Each of the five has completed two or more years of prior training in Catholic seminaries.
"We have no intention of doing away with sending our seminarians to Catholic schools," said the Rev.Victor Ciaramitaro, director of ministerial development. "We will still be sending some of our men out of the state and the country for their theological training and others will go to Memphis Theological."
Sister Frances said there is no danger of the seminarians losing out on important Catholic theological training while attending Memphis Theological.
"On the faculty, we have seven adjunct faculty members-one priest, a Christian brother, three lay male the ologians and two women theologians-including myself," Sister Frances explained. "So, when a Catholic seminarian needs training in a special facet of theology, he will be taught by one of the Catholic adjunct faculty members."
Bishop Carroll T.Dozier of Memphis said he feels the program is serving many purposes, one of which is the better use of diocesan personnel.