Well, another academic year is completed. By the time of this posting, most seminarians from around the country will have returned to their home dioceses. These first couple weeks of summer often serve as a time to visit family, go on vacation, and relax after the rigors of final exams at the seminary. For my own part, after I returned home to Sacramento I had the joy of visiting Lake Tahoe and celebrating my niece’s first birthday with family and friends. This coming week I will help out with confirmations at my home parish, celebrating with my parish community and Bishop Soto a crucial moment in the life of these young people. Please keep them all in your prayers, and please pray for me and Alex as we prepare ourselves and the other servers for the Mass!
Do not think, however, that the entire summer is spent relaxing! No, the life of a seminarian during the summer, while different when compared to the school year, is just as busy and filled with numerous opportunities for ministry, prayer, and continued discernment and growth towards God’s will in our lives.
Case in point: the seminarians for the Diocese of Sacramento recently received our summer assignments, and they are as varied as the seminarians themselves. Some of us will be serving in parishes, some will be headed to Mexico for language immersion, while still others will be headed to their home countries to visit family. In our Diocese, some of us also serve on what we call the “Fiat Missions.” I and several other guys, including Alex who is a frequent blogger here on Consider Priesthood, will be traveling around the Diocese, giving talks and mini-retreats at various parishes. These retreats are meant to foster and encourage vocations, specifically to the Diocesan priesthood here in the Diocese of Sacramento.
As the group of us travel around the Diocese, our hope is that we can share with you all, especially those of you who are discerning a call to the priesthood, the joy and gift of this wonderful vocation! We hope to share how seminary has helped us to grow closer to our Lord and how He works in each of our lives. Participating in the Fiat Mission throughout the summer is always very edifying for me, as I get to hear the stories of my brother seminarians and how they came to where they are now. Our hope is that through the sharing of these stories, as well as sharing what it is like to be a seminarian in our Diocese, we will be able to encourage some of you to make your own “fiat,” to say yes to the Lord and to consider priesthood.
Please pray for us; know that you remain in our prayers always. As I travel around the Diocese with my brother seminarians during the Fiat Missions, I will try to get a post up here and there detailing my experiences. The summer promises to be exciting!
Pax et bonum.
Well…a few days has turned into almost a month…hard to get back into the grove of posting.
April seems to have been a lot more quiet than March was so maybe I can bring everything up to date and include May.
The biggest deal of April was Easter of course! Holy Week was very quiet and then boom! It all started! Quite contrary to what I expected this Triduum was more prayerful than others in the past. I attribute this to the coordination of it here in the parish and the communication. Of special mention are the incredible MC’s of our altar server group. They were troopers and great assistants. Not only was it prayerful it was also very gratifying to see them excel after working so hard to learn the role of MC.
Back in November we started celebrating our principal Sunday Mass in a more solemn fashion and so these fellows rose to the occasion and can now MC very well. We meet regularly for training, formation and fellowship which I think helped them embrace this ministry. It has been one of the highlights of my time here.
The time before April was filled with penance services, and while I cannot hear confessions I did go to a few penance services to observe them and of course make my own confession. There was one in particular where I was able to hear people visit and share their experiences. Two things impressed them most, how refreshing and healing it is to go Confession and seeing so many priests gathered. On average there were at least 6-8 priests helping hear confessions, sometimes more.
Another reason I went is because these gatherings are very fraternal and include a meal, as the Gospel tells us “the laborer is due his wages” and as my dad told me “never turn down a free meal”. No, it wasn’t the meal, it was the gathering, the sharing and the laughter which entailed. These events helped me to feel a part of this group of priests so for that I was grateful.
After the Easter my pastor, Fr Mitch, and I went on our Easter Break. The diocese allows us some time off after Christmas and Easter to relax and refresh after the hard push of those liturgical seasons. We took a small road trip through five or six states seeing some amazing sights. This was a great opportunity in regards to fraternity as well. While Fr and I get along well, it was enjoyable to spend this time together enjoying the trip and our company and not talking about work.
In the middle of all of what was going on it was announced that the Rev Mr. Eric Flores was called to priestly ordination, which should take place on June 7. Please pray for him as he prayers for this great moment in his life.
We had a very nice celebration for Divine Mercy Sunday, and then the following week was First Communion. Today we will receive some people into the Church, these are people who are both baptized and catechized. After Mass we will unveil our new Marian grotto which was an Eagle Scout project for one of our young men here. I got a sneak peak and it is lovely.
Last week was the annual priest retreat. It was a great opportunity to see the priests, especially those who were seminarians when I was still a new seminarian. The talks were very good, Fr Basil Cole, OP placed a lot of stuff which I have been told in seminary in a very real context of the priesthood.
I’ll be making a visit home soon for my niece’s First Communion and then to help with our Confirmation. After that comes the seminarian retreat which is always something we look forward too. I’ll post more on these as time goes by.
Well…I”m back! It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted anything and I”m sorry. So I”ll do my best to bring you up to speed. This post was originally begun in mid March, from this point on I will add some more and in soon post an April posting.
Well it’s Lent! I have to admit Lent is very different in the parish then in the seminary. I haven’t figured out how or why but it just feels different. The biggest difference I think is that most of my involvement here has been as a guide or teacher whereas in seminary we all march along together. We have Stations of the Cross on Friday in English and Spanish so that always makes Friday a busy day. In a certain way the quiet almost private side of Lent is enjoyable also.
I’ve been teaching Faith Formation a lot more this semester also. I started out rotating between grades and now am on a track with 4th and 5th grades. It’s both fun and eye opening. It’s much different from the Adult Faith Formation which I was more involved in last semester. Working with children is like planting a garden, you do the work, plant the seed and hope for the harvest.
February was a very quiet month which was a nice lull before Lent. I did for the first time a burial rite. It was pouring down rain that day which I think reminded me more of our mortality and final goal. We also launched our efforts to support the Diocesan Capital Campagin “One” . We had a series of receptions which had pretty positive responses and it was in those receptions that we were able to inform people about the goals of the campaign.
Here at St Thomas More we have a tradition to host a dinner for all the volunteers of the parish on Fat Tuesday. It was a great event and I headed up the kitchen. Thanks to staff, a few volunteers we had some fun cooking and hosted a fantastic feast featuring polish cuisine and had music for dancing. It was great fun! There were a lot of hands involved in many ways.
The next day, of course, was Ash Wednesday and so we began Lent. It was my first time imposing ashes on people and it was a deep moment. It caused great reflection on my part and in a sense gave me comfort. Spending the bulk of the liturgical year with a community really gives one an idea of the future and in my case enabled me to say “yes I believe this is my life and I want to do it”. It has been a lot of confirmation and encouragement.
Saturday the 15th of March our Knights of Columbus had their annual dinner, I don’t know what overcame me but I was the lead cook again. f have been a knight myself for 13 years and so it was great to get back in the mix and do some “knight stuff again”
One thing I will be doing is leading our Spanish community through the Stations of the Cross. So far it has been tremendous to see this small but faithful group coming to pray. There is something very moving about the faith of others and a very powerful and humbling thing to be one they turn to for that.
On March 25th, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, was the episcopal ordination of His Excellency, the Most Rev Mryon J. Cotta, Auxiliary of Sacramento. It was a very beautiful liturgy in terms of ceremony and ritual but also what it manifested. I will write more about that in a reflection post. One of the most enjoyable aspects was being with my brother seminarians, both the time we had to clown around and to serve Mass together.
Two days later Fr Mitch, my pastor, began the rounds of penance service. It is common in our deanery, and most others as well, that the local priests help each other hear confessions. I went to a few (not to hear confessions) and really enjoyed the brotherhood and how grateful the people were to see so many priests and to experience the healing mercy of God in this Sacrament.
That was the month of March, in a nutshell. As you know we are in Holy week and 48 hours away from the Triduum. I will try and post more and share a few reflections as this goes on. I apologize deeply for the lack of posting…I got lost in “stuff” here, thank you for your readership and I pray this Holy Week, this week that changed the world, is powerful and changes your life too. God bless.
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