Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Hurricane, A New Year, & A Silent Retreat

They say that all good things must come to an end. Well, after a few days off my summer vacation did exactly that and I am now officially back in Baltimore, at the Seminary. This past week St. Mary's welcomed 21 new men to the seminary from all across the country, including a former student of my Father's good friend from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. It is a small world indeed.

Like most all of us on the East Coast the last week has been a long one with the anticipation, onset and aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Originally I had been planning to return to the Seminary in time to meet some good family friends, and honorary relatives, on Sunday. They were coming down for the Yankees game (boo hiss boo hiss boo boo) and invited me along for dinner. Since all returning men were due back to the Seminary by Monday Night the timing worked out perfectly, that is until Irene entered the picture. Knowing that New England would be a mess and that the storm was going to slam my entire route from NH to MD, I decided it was best to come Friday night instead and from the looks of things I made the right decision.

On Friday night I arrived, unpacked and put my feet up. Saturday morning I ran out for a few things before the big storm and returned in time to watch it roar in. Living in Baltimore and not to far from the Ocean I figured we were due to get hit pretty hard. Saturday night rolled in with a strong winds and rain and a Hurricane Party in the Donnelly Lounge.

Luckily for us minus a few tree limbs we made out pretty well, not even losing power.

On the home front things seem to have been much worse. My parents, who live in the Lakes Region of NH, have been without power since Sunday and still are in the dark. My sisters who live in Vermont seem to be right in the mix of things and from the sounds of things Vermont is a war zone with bridges washing out, towns cut off from the world, and many roads impassible.

Please keep them and all those flooded or stranded in your prayer.

In less than 15 minutes we are due to start a three day silent retreat.

I am looking forward to it for the most part. It is hard to believe I am starting my fourth year as a seminarian.


p.s. More to come when this weekend when I take my good friend and fellow seminarian Francis, who is from Uganda, on his first Rollercoaster. It should be a blast as he has agreed to go on the coasters and has no idea what it is. In fairness I did try and show him a youtube video of one. The last time I went to Hershey Park we invited a Zambian priest to come along. He did. We convinced him to come on the Rollercoaster with us. After he did, he hid from us the rest of the day, until it was time to go home.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Rite of Candidacy

Yesterday evening I celebrated a major milestone on my Vocational journey, when I celebrated the Rite of Candidacy. As one prepares to become a deacon, we are asked to take part in a ceremony called the Rite of Candidacy. Being admitted to the Rite of Candidacy, according to the Church, " offers the candidates for ordination the opportunity to publicly express their intention to receive ordination as a Deacon and...later as a Priest."

Last night I did just that when a small gathering of clergy, friends and family gathered at Transfiguration parish. We prayed evening prayer together before I was asked to stand and respond to the following statements:

The bishop rose sand offered these words:
My child, the pastors and teachers in charge of your formation, and others who know you, have given a favorable account of you, and we have fill confidence in their testimony.

In response to the Lord's call, are you resolved to complete your preparation so that in due time you will be ready to be ordained for the ministry of the Church?

(My Response) I am

Are you resolved to prepare yourself (yourselves) in mind, heart, and spirit to give faithful and compassionate service to Christ the Lord and his body, the Church?

My Response:
I am.


The Church receives your declaration with joy. May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.

Following the conclusion of prayer we gathered at the parish hall for some wonderful refreshments prepared by the parish community. It is hard to believe that I have been in formation three years and am starting my fourth. It is crazy how fast time flies by and how the Holy Spirit works.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer Has Arrived!

It is hard to believe just how fast time flies. Yesterday afternoon many of my college friends and I gathered for a mini-reunion. After many years apart we decided it was time to gather together as one large group. The day was lively as most all of my friends were now married and had kids. Father Cecil Donahue, OSB, a monk from St. Anselm Abbey where we all went to college, served as the patriarch of the gathering. Father Cecil is an incredible, holy and generous man who has remained a spiritual advisor and friend to us all since our first days on the hilltop. It was a beautiful thing to see him almost as if a proud grandfather to us all. Father Cecil is also quite the charmer and can quiet a screaming baby with just a wink. Luckily amongst our group was Matthew Lomano a local talented photographer, he took a lot of neat photos which I hope to post here soon. In the meantime I am off to celebrate the afternoon in Portsmouth. No amount of rain will spoil the day.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Summer of Studies

Each summer as Seminarians we are assigned to work in different parishes. The idea behind summer assignments is that it allows seminarians to get a taste of parish life, learn from different priests, visit different parishes in the state and give us experiences needed for our future work. As the school year was closing out this spring in Baltimore I was asked to undertake a special assignment. As seminarians we can be given special assignments for a whole host of reasons and it is important for us to recognize that in preparing for the priesthood we are preparing for a life of service, and that means being open to whatever is asked. This summer the Bishop asked me to devote my time to taking extra classes so that I could get ahead in my studies. The end result will not change when I am scheduled to be finished with the Seminary, it will however, allow me to receive more training which can be used to help the diocese in the future.

What did those classes look like? How did it work? It actually was pretty simple. This summer I spent my days between three classes, Latin, Contemporary Ecclesiology, and Patristic Christology. Six days a week for 2-3 hours a day I studied Latin with my private tutor Father Cecil Donahue from Saint Anselm Abbey. Father Cecil was a great tutor, although I am not sure I was his brightest student. Latin was a real struggle, but Father Cecil patiently endured my lackluster Latin skills. The other two classes I took were independent studies, which meant I was responsible for a large volume of reading and writing for each. The classes worked as correspondent course of sorts, in which I communicated with professors at the Seminary via email, forwarding my work as I went. The end result was that my summer assignment was filled with lots of assignments.

I am going to be straightforward with you, this meant my summer was the best and the worst at the same time. It was great to be able to relax and read at my own pace. It was difficult having lots of work always hanging over my head and deadlines to meet. In the end I think it was great practice for what lay ahead. Life is full of many deadlines and responsibilities. The hard part is motivating, pacing and keeping on top of things. As much as I am not the world's model student, I did enjoy the opportunity to learn about some fascinating subjects (minus Latin). I also made sure to allow time for balance and for relaxation.

Now that August has arrived I have returned to my family home in Brookfield and am looking forward to my first real break from school since last summer.

My special assignment This summer I was asked by the Bishop to undertake an unusual assignment, summer school. You might naturally wonder exactly why

Important Blog News:

Please note this blog will begin being regularly updated after August 21st (when I arrive in Baltimore).