One of the strangest parts of living in a seminary occurs when someone leaves. Seminarians can leave for many different reasons. Some are asked to leave, others decide they need a break to sort things out and others decided they just aren't being called to be a priest.
Last week, a friend of mine from the seminary decided it was not for him. Wanting to exit quietly and without fanfare he left early in the morning, choosing only to say good bye to a few of his closest friends. The rest of us discovered later in the day when the generic email was sent stating (... _________ is no longer in formation at Saint Mary's Seminary" The Seminary always sends the exact same email, as to protect the privacy of those who leave and therefore not explain why.
It is a strange experience to say the least and I always find it a bit unsettling. You eat lunch with someone one day and they are gone by dinner without a word. It may just be me, but I worry for those who leave, especially if I think they might have been asked to leave. Their lives take brand new directions and I always wonder where they will end up. In the end all I can do is pray. Nonetheless, the sudden and unexpected departure of seminarians always seems to throw a pall over the place, kind of like someone has died.
Not sure if this makes sense, but I figured for my blog to be real it must be real.
So this week I mourn the loss of a friend from the seminary formation program, although I also celebrate with great joy, his discernment and realization that God is calling him somewhere else.
God calls each of us to different places in life. Our job in the end is to figure out where he is calling us to.
In the end I don't consider someone who leaves the seminary to have dropped out, but rather to have been called elsewhere.
(side note: yes, I purposely put the title leaving to get your attention, and make you wonder. But for the record I am not going anywhere anytime soon :)