The new year is upon us, classes are starting, and resolutions are being made. For many seminarians, including those in Sacramento, this time of year has a different meaning as well: retreat season. Across the country, many seminaries, including Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon and Saint Patrick’s in Menlo Park, the two seminaries utilized by the Diocese of Sacramento, hold an annual retreat, often in silence, in order to provide some time for prayer, reflection, and finding God’s will in one’s life. Even those who are on their pastoral internship, a year long period of learning and living in a parish, return to their seminaries, as I returned to Mount Angel this past week. While a week-long retreat, especially in silence, is not always easy, if one allows it to be, it is fruitful and brings many blessings.
Silence and time for prayer is just as important for seminarians and priests as it is for anyone else, especially for those who are discerning a call to religious life. To hear God’s call, we should take some time to step back and simply “be” with God. This might mean attending a formal discernment retreat, which can be found by contacting your local Diocese (such as Sacramento’s Office of Vocations), going on a personal retreat at a local monastery or retreat house (such as the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Northern California), or if neither of those options are available to you now, then simply spending some time away from the constant bombardment of modern life, whether it be a hiking or camping trip, or some other experience in which you can spend some good quality time reflecting and praying, listening for the Lord. As one priest recently told me: look for quality over quantity. In other words, you don’t have to spend 14 days in total silence to hear God’s will, but you do have to make an honest effort, with the guidance of a good spiritual director, and then make a decision and move forward based on what you discern.
If you are discerning the priesthood or religious life, take that next step and spend some time away with God. Find a good spiritual director who can help you on the journey, and when the time comes, with good discernment, move forward towards the next phase.
In the meantime, keep an eye out for the ConsiderPriesthood team! Fr. Jovito, Vocations Director for the Diocese of Sacramento, and some seminarians will be visiting St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School in Vallejo and Crito Rey High School in Sacramento over the coming weeks.
Please continue to pray for all your Sacramento seminarians, and know that you remain in ours as well!
Recently a group of seminarians, religious sisters, priests, and brothers ventured to Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento to promote vocations. This has been an ongoing effort to reach out to high school students in the Diocese of Sacramento: along with Christian Brothers, we have also visited Mercy High School up north, and plan on visiting Vallejo in the near future.
We had a wonderful time meeting all of the students, and they asked some terrific questions! Here are a few pictures from the event; click on the photo for a larger version.
After a long and busy summer seminary is now in full swing for both our Mt Angel and St. Patrick’s men. We are pleased to have a number of new seminarians for studying for the diocese and will soon have their profile up on Consider Priesthood so you can get to know them!
Monday started with the Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated by the Most Rev. Liam Carey, Bishop of the Diocese of Baker. Following that was the inaugural address given by Abbot Peter Eberle, Vice Rector of the Theologate. He looked at the fictional stories of three priests and compared them to the model priest proposed by Pope St. John Paul II in his encyclical on the formation of priests “Pastores dabo vobis” to highlight the importance of formation both in the seminary and after.
In the afternoon we had a BBQ hosted by the monks of Mt Angel which was preceded by Vespers. This years menu had a Hawaiian theme. There are 47 new seminarians at Mt Angel this year which brings enrollment to about 150. It’s an impressive sound both in the chapel and the dining room! The evening was very pleasant as we enjoyed the warm and sunny Oregon weather and each others company. It was also a rare free Monday evening. Every Monday is typically dedicated to a conference related to one of the four areas of formation in the seminary.
Tuesday was the start of classes, which for us deacons was a challenging one whole class! Returning for this last year is definitely an interesting experience. There is the excitement of being ordained and the joys of ordained ministry but there is a sense that this is the dusk of a beautiful stage of life. We all look forward to the priesthood eagerly but like all transitions leaving the old, familiar behind has a twinge of sadness. While most of our fellow seminarians are busy studying philosophy and theology those of us in the fourth year of theology focus on more practical things in pastoral ministry. Next semester we will start learning how to celebrate the Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Do keep us in your prayers!
Turning our attention back to the Diocese there was a change in the diocese of Sacramento. Fr Francisco Hernandez Gomez who served as our vocations director was asked to resume parish ministry by the Bishop. Fr Jovito Rata took the helm of the Vocations Office in his place. God bless them both in their service!
I hope to post pictures of the opening events, the summer and our new men very soon. Thank you for your readership. God Bless!
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