Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Altar Servers

One of my responsibilities on pastoral year is training new servers and monitoring the servers we already have. I recently sent a postcard to my current servers, thanking them for their ministry, reminding them that they were responsible for finding their won substitutes, and listing the dates that they had been absent. I spent a good deal of time on the wording of that postcard; I wanted to be sure no one would be offended. I sent the postcards away in the mail, and was certain that the servers would read the postcard and say, “Oh, I’ll have to be better about that.” In my mind, I saw them all going to check the ministry schedule and then throwing the postcard in the garbage. No such luck.

Within a couple of days, I had several angry parents calling to tell me that I had “made them feel like irresponsible parents.” From the tenor of the conversations, I get the impression that it is somehow my fault that the servers don’t show up when they are scheduled, and that it is OK to miss your own day if you were called upon to substitute for someone else who failed to find their own replacement. So, a few of my servers have simply asked to be removed from the pool. So be it. Others have mentioned that they are just “too old” to be servers anymore. I respond, “I don’t agree, but if you insist . . .”

These conversations were the impetus for me to invite children in younger grades. They want to serve, they are willing to learn how to do it well, and they do not suffer from the all too common adolescent time poverty of many of my other servers.

Ask and you shall receive. I put out my invitation and I now have twenty-three boys and girls in grades three and up who want to be servers. Some are very small, and it will look funny to have me process in with them and direct them around the sanctuary, but I am looking forward to the challenge of becoming a model, teacher and shepherd for my new little flock.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

St. Luke, Evangelist

For this Feast of the Evangelist St. Luke we were privileged to have at the seminary Mass Bishop Richard E. Pates as celebrant and homilist. I think that the presence of a successor of the apostles at one of our liturgies is a very special way to celebrate such a feast. In his homily today, the bishop emphasized the personal and compassionate characteristics of Luke that were crucial for the success of his ministry. St. Luke was "present, open and in touch with human nature" Bishop Pates said. These traits enabled Luke to reach many people in a profound yet caring way. St. Luke was a wonderful example of someone who "preached the truth in love."

Today's entry in the Liturgy of the Hours gives us these words about the Evangelist: "Saint Luke was born of a pagan family. Converted to the faith, he became a fellow-worker of the apostle Paul. From Saint Paul's preaching he compiled one of the gospels. He handed down an account of the beginnings of the Church in another work, the Acts of the Apostles, which tells of events up to the time of Saint Paul's first sojourn in Rome."

St. Jerome has similar remarks: "Luke, a physician of Antioch as his writings indicate, was not unskilled in the Greek language. An adherent of the apostle Paul, and companion of all his journeying, he wrote a Gospel" (On Illustrious Men, Ch. 7, Taken from newadvent.org: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2708.htm). Being born a pagan, he was at home in the Greek culture, which no doubt made him a valuabe asset as a companion of St. Paul, the "Apostle to the Gentiles." Being a physician one would seem assured that he had an extensive education. If so, Luke would also be an early example of a person who took advanced scientific knowledge and wedded it to the truths of the Gospel in an harmonious way. Granted his science would not be advanced at all given our standards today, but perhaps they were in the first century. With the significant advances in science we have today we can see questions arising in this area. Nonetheless, surely his knowledge as a physician was very helpful on the missionary path.

As St. Paul, St. Luke was not an eyewitness of our Lord during his earthly ministry. But he sought out those who were eyewitnesses, i.e. the Apostles. A couple of his emphases in the gospel are the universality of salvation brought by Jesus Christ and the need to live an authentically Christian life. Luke's gospel also contains the Canticle (Benedictus) of Zechariah (1:68-79), the Magnificat of Mary (1:46-55) and the Prophecy of Simeon (2:29-32)--each of which make up a part of Morning (Benedictus), Evening (Magnificat)and Night (Prophecy of Simeon) Prayers in the daily Liturgy of the Hours. He is depicted as a calf or ox in images and, although we don't know for sure, he is traditionally thought to be a martyr.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Rectors' Bowl

In response to a comment left by cathy_of_alex to my post dated 9/28/06, yes the Rectors' Bowl, the football game between our own St. Paul Seminary Sons of Thunder and the St. John Vianney Seminary Men of the Church, is open to the public. As a matter of fact, we would love to have some public there to watch! Here is the relevant information...

7th Annual Rectors’ Bowl—St. Paul Seminary Sons of Thunder vs. St. John Vianney Men of the Church

When: 7pm Saturday, October 21

Where: O’Shaughnessy Stadium at the University of St. Thomas (located on the corner of Cretin and Summit Aves. in St. Paul)

Not even the Tommie/Johnnie game compares to this! Come and see some great football action as the undefeated St. Paul Seminary Sons of Thunder take on the St. John Vianney Men of the Church. Head Coach Monsignor Aloysius Callaghan has every confidence that the Sons will hold onto the trophy and the well-deserved title of prevailing football champions. Coach Father William Baer and the youthful Men anticipate plenty of exciting action as they expect to upset this long-standing tradition and bring the trophy home! There will event be concessions and a pep band!

Sorry for the late response, cathy! God bless you!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Theology in Practice

My entire presbyterate recently gathered for an annual convocation. The Topic this year: Restoring the Order of the Sacraments of Initiation. It was amazing to watch these pastors suddenly also become theologians. So often it seems that in pastoral work the connection to theology is not obvious. However, these priests, when given the opportunity, were happy to dust off their theological vocabulary and resume the debates in which they had engaged as seminarians. Unlike seminarians, though, they approached the debate with the added wealth of experiential knowledge that gave weight to their opinions. It was a glorious dispute; words and phrases like mystagogia, source and summit, spiritual maturity, and praxis were flying all over the place. The priests quoted Law, Tradition, Scripture, and Documents. It was amazing. Theology, it would seem, is highly practical, but I suspect that many of us often fail to see the theological skeleton when it is enfleshed in pastoral practice.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Vocation and Family

In late August, the Office of Vocations for the Diocese of Rapid City asked me to compose a brief article about my family and my vocation. This article was later published in the September 2006 issue of our diocesan newspaper, The West River Catholic. I am republishing that same article here.

As a young child, I remember my father telling people that of his three sons, he wanted a doctor, a lawyer, and a priest. With such assets, he believed, he would be assured a happy and comfortable retirement. I’m not sure exactly why, but it was generally assumed that of the three of us, I would be the priest. Dad didn’t get the doctor and the lawyer, though he did manage to inherit a couple of daughters-in-law. And, it seems entirely likely that he will get the priest, as I am now only three years away from ordination, and am looking forward to the day when I can serve the people of the Diocese of Rapid City as a priest.

People always chuckle when I tell that story about my father, but the truth is that I have been blessed to be raised by parents who have encouraged me to pursue my vocation. I knew from early in my childhood that I would be supported in whatever life decision I made. My parents want me to be happy, and they know that in the priesthood I will find that happiness. They don’t always understand what I am doing, or why I am doing it, but they never stand in the way, and in moments of discouragement, they offer me support. I remember a time when things at the seminary were exceedingly difficult for me. I was relating these troubles to my mother, and commented, “Maybe I should just quit.” She responded, “You’ll have to be the one to make that decision, I guess, but remember, you have never wanted to be anything else.” And I haven’t. A parent doesn’t really need to know all of the particulars of a child’s situation to know the right thing to say.

I must also say that my brothers, and now my sisters-in-law are also of tremendous support in discerning my vocation. I know there have been times when it was difficult for them to try to explain to an incredulous listener what, precisely, I was doing with my life. They are often the ones who force me to articulate my experience of seminary, so that they can understand it better. And when I do try to explain myself so that they can understand my experience, I come to understand better what I am called to do and to be.

A vocation is never one’s own possession, but rather a gift given from God for the good of others. My parents, my brothers, and my sisters-in-law have helped to nourish that gift in me. I pray that I will be a worthy steward of it.