Monday, August 31, 2009

Welcoming the New Guys!

This year I was appointed to be co-chair for New Student Orientation. Practically speaking this meant that I was in charge of overseeing the move-in and orientation for the twenty new seminarians at St. Mary's. The job itself was quite complicated, but thanks to the help of twenty volunteers it has gone as smooth as can be humanly expected.

Thursday of last week twenty new guys arrived at the seminary. Some of them arrived for their first time ever in the seminary. Some of the guys went to college seminaries and simply arrived at St. Mary's for Major seminary. Thinking back to this time last year I remember how nervous I was to be beginning such an adventure. I vividly remember pulling up the imposing building, wondering why on earth I was here. I contemplated turning around and never coming back. I felt called, yet foolish at the same time. I knew God wanted me to be here, but I was unsure if I wanted to be there.

Luckily, the staff and students at St. Mary's welcomed us all in, one year ago.

When a seminarian arrives on the first day at St. Mary's, he is welcomed by a team of students who invite him into the chapel to pray. New seminarians are asked to kneel on the kneeler Pope John Paul II used in his visit to Baltimore in the 1990's. After a silent prayer one of the deacons offers a blessing. As the seminarian is praying, receiving a blessing and greeting his new "brothers," his things are being carried to his room by a team of volunteers. After a relaxing cup of coffee and some cookies he is brought to his new 8 x 10 home for the next few years. All of his things are waiting for him and the challenge of setting up is all that awaits. Following the setup period, guys attend prayers, meetings and socials. The fill the normal range of activities that one would expect.

This year we did add a few new things that seemed to be well received. After guys received the Deacon's blessing we brought them to be officially welcomed by our Rector and Vice Rector in their respective offices. This change allowed them to be officially received as a guest of honor by the powers at be. At the conclusion of our day's activities we invited all of the guys to a candlelight rosary at the Grotto to our Lady. The rosary was beautiful and really seemed to bring the community together. A week of marathon activities ended this evening with a Crabfeast and a student produced video, both of which were huge hits. I hope to have the video linked at some point if possible.

Below is a profile of our new class. I hope you enjoy it.

*** A Profile of Our 20 New Seminarians***
- 13 under the age of 25
- 4 between the ages of 26-30
- 4 31 or older

- 11 with previous Seminary training (major seminary, college seminary or high school seminary)

- 2 converts
- 7 foreign born
- 11 dioceses represented


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