Education became a prominent ministry for the Salvatorians priests and brothers in the United States, going all the way back to the 1890s. Their teaching approach aligned with the community’s basic charisms, which took it to a level beyond the academic basics of reading, writing, arithmetic, and philosophy. As a result, the Society adopted a commitment to developing well-rounded individuals with the tools to succeed in life, regardless of the path of life that each young man later chose, whether it be priesthood, religious life, or the lay apostolate.
A great leader in Salvatorian education was Father Edward DeBruin, SDS (d. 2001) who attended Salvatorian Seminary in St. Nazianz, Wisconsin, and entered the Society’s novitiate there in 1946; he was ordained a priest in 1953 at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. In his many years of service, Fr. Edward served as a teacher and administrator at Mother of the Savior Seminary in Blackwood, New Jersey, and Divine Savior Seminary in Lanham, Maryland. Fr. Edward reflected, “Maybe ten percent of our students would go on to become brothers or priests. So, we wanted to be sure to tend to not only that ten percent but to all of them so that they learned good study habits, discipline systems, and how to be good humans. We were not there to serve as second parents but to help them learn to make sound decisions for themselves.” (Salvatorian Education Association files in the Salvatorian Archives – RG 620-01)
Fr. Edward became a significant influence in the approach of providing a Salvatorian education, eventually leading the Salvatorian Education Association (S.E.A.), which, by his design, included rectors of all the major seminaries operated by the Society, as well as select teachers from the Salvatorian institutions who could make impactful decisions.
Key components of the plan guaranteed a continuity of education and vision that united all the province’s schools. At that time, members of the community were regularly asked to take on different assignments, depending on their greatest needs at any given time. This could create a potential disruption of education for those students. However, with the work of S.E.A., all the seminaries were aligned and could produce complimentary education plans and results, helping to insure the excellence of the Salvatorian seminaries in the United States.
Through the years, our members have continued this dedication to education through ministry in seminaries, on college campuses, in diocesan programs, and in elementary and high school settings. Even today, Salvatorians continue the legacy of Fr. Edward in places like Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners, WI where Fr. Raúl Gómez-Ruiz, SDS, ministers as President-Rector.