The Papal Foundation was pleased to host the fourth Saeman Scholar orientation meeting on Saturday, October 8, with 105 scholars from 40 different countries around the world attending from Rome via Zoom.

CLICK HERE to watch the blessing of the Saeman Scholars by Bishop Robert Baker and then a beautiful string of heartfelt appreciation from the Scholars themselves.

The priests and religious who participated are recipients of a total of $800,000 in funding to support their studies from The Papal Foundation’s Saint John Paul II Scholarship program, which was initiated 22 years ago by Stewards of Saint Peter John and Carol Saeman.

Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo, a great friend of the Foundation, hosted the orientation from Assisi in both Italian and English, welcoming all the students and introducing a great line-up of speakers:

  • Foundation Chairman Cardinal Sean O’Malley greeted the Saeman Scholars and thanked them for their vocations and their studies, and then opened the session with a beautiful prayer from Pope Francis.
  • Duke Saeman and then Carol and John Saeman addressed the scholars by thanking them for their love of the Church and their commitment to strengthening their faith, as well as taking their learning home.
  • Father Richard Odour from South Sudan, a Saeman Scholar, currently pursuing a doctorate in Sacred Liturgy at Sant Anselmo in Rome, thanked the Saeman family, spoke of his great love for Saint John Paul II, and spoke of the special responsibility he and his fellow Saeman Scholars share:

“Every gift comes with a responsibility that seeks for a good return in its utilization. Each one of us is aware of the responsibility awaiting us at the end of our time in Rome when we get back to our dioceses and religious communities where we will be planting and nurturing the seeds of faith contributing to the Church’s mission of bringing all people to the knowledge of Christ and making disciples for Christ. It is our hope that having been equipped with the right instruments of work, the work of the Christ may always continue to unfold through the Church scattered in all parts of the world.”

– Father Richard Odour

  • Bishop Robert J. Baker, STD, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Birmingham Alabama provided the keynote address: “The Redemption of our Bodies: A Conversation on Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.” In his illuminating talk, Bishop Baker provided a brief overview of the depth and breadth of the Theology of the Body, a theology that the Bishop called “the most profound explanation of human sexuality the Church has yet seen.” In his closing Bishop Baker said “Church teachings, which formerly may have made the modern world uncomfortable, have become a part of the mosaic of a vision of the human person that is truly radiant, thanks to this wise and holy pope!”
There was a Q&A following Bishop Baker’s talk and then Foundation President Eustace Mita thanked Bishop Baker and the Saeman family for their great leadership, and then closed out the orientation with an exhortation to the Saeman Scholars to be faithful servants to the teaching of the Church.

Since its inception, the Saint John Paul II Scholarship Program has allocated more than $13 million in scholarships to 1700 students! Our heartfelt thanks to John and Carol Saeman and their entire family for their visionary leadership and financial generosity in creating this high impact program for our Church!