Sacred Heart Major Seminary's satellite campuses exceed students' expectations

Students attend class at one of Sacred Heart Major Seminary's satellite campuses at St. John Vianney Parish in Shelby Township. Starting last fall, the seminary opened two new satellite locations, at St. Thomas More Parish in Troy and Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth, making courses more accessible to students in different parts of the Archdiocese of Detroit. (Photos by Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Students love accessible parish campuses, where they can progress at their own pace, grow in love for the Lord and his Church

PLYMOUTH — Following the launch of two new Sacred Heart Major Seminary satellite campuses in the fall of 2023, students are in agreement about their advice for those considering enrollment: jump in — you won’t regret it.

Beginning in fall 2022, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, which is based in Detroit, began offering classes at St. John Vianney Parish in Shelby Township. A year later, the seminary expanded with two new satellite locations, at St. Thomas More Parish in Troy and Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth. The seminary made a three-year commitment to stay in each parish, offering six courses, one per semester, for students to earn their Certificate in Catholic Theology at their own pace.

Seventy-eight students were enrolled in satellite classes for the 2023-24 school year, Michael Grasinski, assistant director of admissions at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, told Detroit Catholic, and he expects at least 60 for the 2024-25 school year. The courses are offered one night a week and can accommodate approximately 25 students at a time per parish campus.

“Overall, the satellite campuses have been successful,” Grasinski said. “We are able to capture more students who might otherwise not be able to come into Detroit during the weekday in order to take courses. The satellite campuses allow people to simply come to their parish; we are bringing a Sacred Heart education to them, and this has allowed us to reach more people and more places in the Archdiocese of Detroit than we would be able to otherwise.”

Student Julie Poyer said taking classes at Our Lady of Good Counsel has provided her with flexibility amidst the busyness and obligations of life.

St. Thomas More Parish in Troy hosts one of Sacred Heart Major Seminary's satellite campuses, making classes more accessible for students in Oakland County and beyond.
St. Thomas More Parish in Troy hosts one of Sacred Heart Major Seminary's satellite campuses, making classes more accessible for students in Oakland County and beyond.
A satellite campus at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth has received positive reviews from students who have taken classes there.
A satellite campus at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth has received positive reviews from students who have taken classes there.

“I work full time, I have four kids and a grandchild, and I'm a pretty busy person, but I still wanted to study,” Poyer told Detroit Catholic.

Poyer, the wife of Deacon Aaron Poyer, who serves at the Basilica of Ste. Anne and Most Holy Trinity Parish in Detroit, began taking online courses in preparation for a second career. However, when the opportunity for in-person classes at a more convenient location arose, Poyer jumped at the chance.

“In-person classes sounded attractive and less intimidating,” Poyer explained. “Once I was there, I realized how artful it was sitting with other lay people who had those same desires; they wanted to grow closer to Christ and wanted to learn more about the Church and the tenets of the faith.

“It was just a great all-around learning environment, not to mention that you don’t have to worry about the winter storms and trying to get down to the seminary,” Poyer added. “It took that stress off of you and put you in that more comfortable environment.”

Poyer is working toward her Certificate in Catholic Theology, which she said is useful on its own but can also prepare students to pursue a master's degree in theology.

Christina Painter began her first day of classes at Our Lady of Good Counsel and immediately “fell in love.” She quickly switched from pursuing her certificate and decided to go after a degree in pastoral studies instead.

Painter has since taken classes both at the satellite location and at the main campus in Detroit, where she studied alongside future clergy and religious, she said.

“It has exceeded my expectations,” Painter told Detroit Catholic. “I am a revert to the faith, and my husband is a convert, and I am learning more than I expected because I thought, ‘I went through all of this five years ago through re-entering the Church.’” But I feel like I am going deeper, and no matter what, the class and the instructors meet you where you are.”

Painter is a wife and mother of two young boys. She works as the first reconciliation and Communion coordinator at Our Lady of Good Counsel and will complete her degree at her own pace, something made easier by the satellite classes.

“I was able to jump in — I am 38 years old, so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do this, but I have a 4.0 (grade point average), and I feel on fire,” Painter said. “They just motivate you. It’s not that it is easy — it does take work — but because the teachers and students are passionate, it is like we are sharpening each other, and it is work worth doing.”

A lay student smiles during a class at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. While the seminary's main campus in Detroit remains a hub for students from all over the archdiocese, Sacred Heart's satellite campuses allow students to learn at their own pace and convenience.
A lay student smiles during a class at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. While the seminary's main campus in Detroit remains a hub for students from all over the archdiocese, Sacred Heart's satellite campuses allow students to learn at their own pace and convenience.

Painter discerned going back to school while praying before the Blessed Sacrament, and she encourages others considering the seminary satellite program to do the same.

“I would first encourage them to pray … and ask the Lord what He is calling them to do,” Painter said. “Then the second thing I would say is just jump in. I think you should just try it — the first day, I fell in love and said, ‘I want more.’”

Poyer said it is inspiring to study alongside other lay people who are on fire for their faith and desire to expand their knowledge, and she encourages others to take the leap.

“It was a beautiful thing to be able to see other people in love with the Lord who want to learn more and who have very busy, trying schedules that you can relate to,” Poyer said. “The person next to you in that class is asking the same questions, and wondering and having those same worries and stresses. And they also have a love for the Lord that they are trying to exercise here, trying to learn more and grow closer to be able to share it with others. You have nothing to lose."

Learn more

To inquire about course offerings or to learn more about Sacred Heart Major Seminary's satellite campuses, call (313) 883-8696 or contact the Admissions Office via email.



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