New St. Peter's Seminary leader learns from God's mercy

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  • January 25, 2010
{mosimage}LONDON - Fr. Stevan Wlusek, installed this month as the new rector of St. Peter’s Seminary in London , is well known for his compassion and strength in the face of suffering, .

A recent example of the 52-year-old priests’ endurance came just weeks before he took over as rector from then-Fr. Bill McGrattan, who was ordained a bishop on Jan. 12 to serve in the archdiocese of Toronto. Days before Christmas, Wlusek was injured when a truck backed into his legs in a parking lot, pinning him against his own vehicle. He escaped without any broken bones and was back on his feet in January, still recovering from the injury, but smiling, energetic and excited to plunge into his new responsibilities.

“The one area that I really want to focus on in seminary formation is the aspect of spiritual formation of seminarians,” Wlusek said.

Wlusek completed a Master of Arts in Spirituality at Creighton University in 2003. He served as in-house spiritual director at the seminary in 2002-2003.

“Even though I’m impressed by the amount of reading and amount of prayer seminarians have done before coming here, today the seminarians are in the midst of a society that seems to deny their spirituality,” he said.

Wlusek remembers the great value of developing his own prayer life, which stemmed in part from the full recovery he made from the brain surgeries in his youth — at the age of five when he had a tumour removed, at 15 when he had a fluid buildup removed and at 16 when doctors took out  a cyst on an optic nerve.

“I felt God had helped me and taken me from the jaws of death in different instances and saw how many people had helped me in the recuperation process,” he said.

Wlusek entered St. Peter’s to study theology and was ordained in 1986. He served parishes in Chatham, London, Strathroy and Windsor until 2000, when he was invited to lecture at St. Peter’s in spirituality and pastoral ministry.

From 2003-2006, Wlusek chaired the sexual abuse committee for the diocese of London and recently completed his thesis on “the particular contribution of the Carmelite tradition towards the spiritual care of sexual abuse survivors.”

Of chairing the committee, Wlusek said, “That was the most difficult ministry of my life.”

But it has given depth to his course in ethical issues in pastoral ministry, taught to seminarians in their last year before they are ordained.

“I talk about some of the harm caused by those in leadership and ministry, through areas of abuse, harrasment, improper staff management procedures, etc. I make a point of emphasizing that students must never abuse the power that’s been given to us in our ministry.”

Wlusek feels his work as rector will be a continuation of what he enjoyed most as a pastor — working with youth.

“I’ve always been energized by the hope, the sense of positivity amongst the youth and the faith I’ve seen alive in their hearts,” he said. “Coming to the seminary has been a little bit of an expansion of that ministry, athough it’s an older age group.”

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