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!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ordination Tour - Day 4

On June 26, Deacon Tyler Dennis, the last of the SPS class of 2009, was ordained a Priest of Jesus Christ by his excellency Blase J Cupich, Bishop of Rapid City.

And he is still reeling trying to come to terms with the immensity of the experience.

I have gone back and forth between numbness, elation, and extreme serenity since that evening. All I have to say so far, is that this is beautiful thing God has done for me.

This occasion also marks my final entry on this blog. It has been my pleasure sharing the events, important and mundane, that have led me to this point. I thank you for your prayers and support of me and my brothers who are still preparing for for their own entrance into the order of presbyters. Perhaps one of these days I will begin writing about my experiences in the parish as a priest. For now, I think I will just savor the experience.

Continue to pray for priests.

-- Fr. Tyler

Have You a Mandate?

In about an hour, I will be heading to the Cathedral where I will have the honor of serving as an acolyte for the episcopal consecration of the Most Reverend Lee Piché as the new Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis.

While this is undoubtedly a great day for our local church, I am particularly gratified on this occasion of the elevation of our new bishop. During my first year in seminary, I was blessed to spend a short J-term parish placement with then Fr. Piché at All Saints Church in Lakeville, MN. I was able to observe and learn much about the life of a pastor from one of its finest exemplars. I will always be grateful for that inspiring yet brief learning experience. In this year of the Priest, it is something I will call to mind with great satisfaction.

A liturgical note: one of the neatest parts of the Ordination Mass is the Presentation of the Bishop-Elect. After the bishop-elect is presented, we will hear an inquiry: "Have you a mandate from the Apostolic See?" Then, "We have." And the Archbishop will respond, "Let it be read." We will then hear the words from the Vatican mandating that the Bishop Elect be raised to the responsibility of the Episcopate. The bull will then be placed in the hands of the chancellor of the Archdiocese.

I think this is one of the most captivating parts of the liturgy because it is a manifestation of the relationship between the local church and the Universal Church.

Please offer a brief prayer for our new bishop, asking the intercession of the two Blessed Apostles whom we celebrate today.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


On Monday, there will be two major celebrations in the Church. In St. Paul, Bishop-elect Lee Piche will be ordained to serve as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis. In Rome, the newly named archbishops will receive the pallium from Pope Benedict XVI. The pallium is made out of wool, which shows his role as chief shepherd of a given territory, and is given to those bishops who are charged with the care of a metropolitan. There are five nails attached to it to remind the archbishop of the five wounds of Christ.

A handful or so of American archbishops will be receiving the pallium.

We will get pictures of both events posted on the blog as soon as we can get them.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

An interesting couple of days

Yesterday was like any other day. We had a wedding which really is nothing jaw-dropping. A couple of hours before the wedding was to start, the priest asked the couple if he could see the marriage license. The next hour or so was pretty frantic. The bride and groom had to go to the courthouse to get the license. The wedding happened and all is well.

Today, I was doing some shopping and I got a phone call from the parish secretary and sounded somewhat frantic. For the past three weeks we have been doing pictures for a directory and the photographers usually need some help getting people checked in. No one showed up to help so I got what I needed and got to the parish to help with that.

On top of all of this three buttons have fallen off the same shirt in the past day. Let's just say I'm getting better at sewing them on.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rain drops keep falling on my head

This song comes to my mind right now because we have been having torrential downpours that past couple of weeks and now it is starting to disrupt my sleep. I was fast asleep and at about 11:30 the rain and thunder started. It sounded pretty bad and I was worried because my car sits outside and if it started hailing, it would not be a pretty sight to have dents in my car and a smashed windshield. I stayed awake long enough to hear the rain subside and I got a decent amount of sleep.

I will be going to the hospital soon to visit some parishioners, after that some exercise might be in order.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fr. Tim Vakoc

Last night as I was getting ready to go to bed I found out that Fr. Tim Vakoc, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, died on Saturday. Fr. Vakoc was a millitary chaplain and was injured about five years ago when he was traveling back to the base after celebrating Mass for some soldiers. He came back to the United States and spent time in a couple of different millitary hospitals and eventually came back to Minnesota. A couple of years ago, he began to speak again and his cognition was coming back. I was speaking with fellow blogger Ben Little and we both agreed that we have gained an intercessor in heaven.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Year of the Priest

Today begins the year of the priest. Although I am not ordained yet, this year will be very significant for how we view the ministerial priesthood. The following text is from the bulletin article that I wrote for the parish that I am living at this summer.

On Friday June 19th, the year of the priest began. This special year was announced on March 16th and will last until June 19, 2010. It is no coincidence that the year of the priest began on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The image of the Sacred Heart is a reminder of God’s unfailing love for his children. In August, the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney will be celebrated. St. John Vianney is the patron saint of all priests. St. John Vianney was the parish priest in Ars, France and was known for his holiness of life. He was not known for being an intelligent priest and the parish in Ars, France was not vibrant to say the least. He was not expected to do much at this parish, but God had other plans. One of the things that Vianney was known for was the direction that he gave to people in the Sacrament of Penance. In the latter part of his life, he would spend 16 to 18 hours a day hearing the confessions of bishops, priests, religious, and young men and women. It is estimated that 20,000 people would come every year to seek out the sacraments and instruction from this holy man. During this time, he underwent many physical and spiritual trials: he was tempted by the devil, slept very little, and lived on a diet of potatoes. Pope Benedict has stated that St. John Vianney is a model for all priests because of his dedication to serving his flock in a heroic way.

As we begin the year of the priest, there are a few things that we can do as a parish community to participate in this special year. One of the easiest and most important ways to participate is to pray for our priests. There are some great prayers available at www.usccb.org. Another way to participate is to say “Thank-you” to your priest. Priests are present at so many points in our lives: baptisms, weddings, funerals, first confessions, first Eucharist, graduations and many more. In the coming months, please remember to pray for our priests, that they will be given the grace necessary to live their priesthood like St. John Vianney did.

May God bless the priests that are present in our lives.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Most members of the rising Theology II class at Saint Paul Seminary are currently participating in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) programs at various hospitals throughout the Midwest. I, along with two classmates from SPS, and another seminarian from the Diocese of New Ulm, are in Sioux Falls, SD at Avera Health for our CPE placement.

We began on May 26 and will continue until August 7. The four of us here have been split up among several different clinical sites for our pastoral experience. I have been working at a Hospice and nursing home facility, which has enabled me to practice and learn about ministry to the dying and their families. It has been a very powerful and humbling few weeks. I am grateful for the experience, which I am sure will prove beneficial to me as a pastor one day.

Please pray for all of us, and for the patients and their families. CPE can be a test of patience and endurance at times, but in the end will help us to be better shepherds of souls, after the Heart of the Good Shepherd Himself.

All Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Paintings, Sculptures & Architecture

by James Lannan, Theology III
Saint Paul Seminary


This is Part 2 of a Summer 2009 multi-part series on religious art that I enjoy. I made a personal pilgrimage to the Rome in August 2007. My journey to Saint Peter's Basilica and all of the amazing Churches can be summed up in one sentence I continually repeated: "I had no idea...so much beauty and grandeur for the praise and glory of God."

I do not claim to be an authority on art. I like to say that I know what I like, and what I do not like. My hope is that all who read our blog enjoy my choices and learn something new.

note: not all of my choices to blog on will be from Rome. Many will come from all over the world.

Part 3 will post soon.


The Holy Trinity, by Guido Reni is located in the Cathedral Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini (1587)

The church was built between 1587 and 1597, and was designed by Martino Longhi the Elder. It was donated to the Archconfraternity of Pilgrims and Convalescents, a charitable institution founded by St Philip Neri in 1548 to care for the poor and the sick, especially for poor pilgrims.

The painting is by Guido Reni (4 November 1575 – 18 August 1642), a prominent Italian painter of high-Baroque style. He began his apprenticeship as an artist at age 9.

I really like this painting. First, it is placed over an altar. Presumably the priest would offer the Mass "ad orientem," with the priest and the people of God facing the same direction. This painting is a great focal point for the both the priest and the people. I imagine that if I ever attended Mass at this Church, this painting would catch my eye immediately.

Second, I really like the detail of the Father, Christ the Son on the Cross, and the Holy Spirit soaring out over creation.

Thirdly, I like the contrast of the blue below and the gold above. I recall that I once read that the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Angels are often depicted in blue because of purity and virtue. That would make sense with the Archangels there (at least, I think they are Archangels). The gold swirls with clouds of angels behind God, the Father, giving a kind of perspective that the infinite abyss of the heavens.

This painting is awesome.

Thanks for listening...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Corpus Christi at St. Charles Borromeo

Since arriving at the Church of St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony on June 3, I have had a wonderful beginning to my deacon summer under the supervision of Fr. LaFontaine.  I spent the first few days getting acquainted with the parish and learning the ropes from Dcn. Najarian, who keeps a fairly tight ship in the sacristy and parish office.  I've been blessed with the opportunity to visit the homebound, assist at a wedding, preside at a wake, and serve as a deacon at Mass every day since arriving at St. Charles.  However, this past Sunday stands out as a truly special moment, for I was able to both preach at Mass and be the deacon in the parish's Corpus Christi procession.

Accompanying the parish's parochial vicar, Fr. Meyer, I joined dozens of parishioners in processing around the parish grounds and offering praise and worship to the Lord in the Holy Eucharist.  Despite the sun's unrelenting heat and the usual hazards that come from marching around in an array of vestments, the Corpus Christi procession was a beautiful ceremony and a great reminder to me of how we should always march forward with Jesus Christ.  Eucharistic processions are a marvelous reminder of our need to stand in solidarity with our Lord as we go about His work.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

More Pictures from St. Louis

On Thursday a seminarian from the seminary was ordained to the transitional diaconate. Joseph Xui Hui Jiang is originally from China but after undergoing persecution was brought to America and put under the care of now Archbishop Carlson. Below are a few pictures of Deacon Joseph.

Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successor?

Deacon Joseph Jiang was vested by Fr. Paul Sirba.

Deacon Joseph incenses the people.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"The Pentecost" by Jean Restout II

Periodically I like to blog on works of religious art, statues, and Church architecture.

More posts to come...

by James Lannan, Theology III - Saint Paul Seminary


I recently saw a print of this painting. I absolutely love it. Each time I look at it I find something new that I like. Notice the reaction each apostle has as he receives the Holy Spirit. Then see how Mary is reacting, centered in glory.

This dramatic representation of the events on Pentecost is a copy of the original artwork "Pentecost" which is currently on display in the Louvre in Paris.

The original painting is 183" X 306 1/4" and is an oil on canvas. The artist, Jean Restout II, painted it in 1732.

I do not claim to be an authority on art at all. Yet, I know what I like and what I do not like. This painting is amazing!

James Lannan

Back in town

We got back from St. Louis last night at about 9:00 o'clock. A lot better weather to travel in. Below are some pictures from the various events.

The facade of the St. Louis Cathedral

Archbishop Carlson in the procession

The apse of the Cathedral. There are 42 million little pieces of mosaic in the Cathedral.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In St. Louis

After the fishing tournament (didn't catch a thing by the way) on Monday, we drove to Sioux Falls only to get back in the car six hours later to drive to St. Louis for Archbishop Robert Carlson's installation. I forgot the little cord to get pictures off of my camera, so that will have to wait. We attended vespers last night at the local Cathedral, which is very beautiful. We have run into priests from all over the place. This morning we were able to have breakfast with the Archbishop-elect along with a group of people from the Sioux Falls diocese that came down on a bus. Tomorrow Joseph Jiang will be ordained a transitional deacon. Joseph comes to us from China and he has been at the seminary with us for two years. Have to go soon to get some lunch and pray daytime prayer before things get busy.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Gone fishing...again

Headed out again for another fishing tournament. Hope the fish are biting tomorrow.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ordination Tour - Day 3

Well, I remain the final unordained deacon of the SPS Class of 2009. Last evening, I attended the ordination of Frs. Jorge Canela and Jonathan Sorensen, where just as the procession was beginning, I was assigned to serve as the chaplain to the bishop of Grand Island. It was a beautiful celebration. This morning, Fr. Omar Guanchez was ordained a priest as well. Though I was unable to get there, I was assured that it was also a beautiful celebration. Pray for priests.

What if...

I recently had dinner at one of the parish employees houses. I got to meet her husband, two kids, and a friend of hers. Long story short, I got a lot of questions from her friend and the usual topics came up: celibacy, why confess to a priest, contraception, etc. She apologized for being blunt with her questions, but I actually appreciate how forward she was because it helped me think back to my training to give her the best answer. My internet access is somewhat limited, so my posts may be sparse. My summer assignment is off to a great start and I am sure that it will continue on the right path.