When I entered the seminary about five months ago, the first thing our rector, Fr. John Cadwick, addressed to all the new and returning seminarians about how we should cope with all that is being presented in lite of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report and the abuse claims. Unfortunately, this horrendous scandal has been the center of conversation among the formation faculty and all the seminarians throughout my first semester. It also has been something all the seminarians and myself have been reflecting on, especially regarding our discernment for the priesthood. I could not help but reflect on this question: “Why did all this come forth just when I started my seminary journey?”
Throughout my discernment, I have come to the realization that God puts in obstacles that are meant to challenge me, both physically and spiritually. The goal of those challenges should make us grow stronger in both faith and love. The entirety of this scandal, as disgusting and humiliating as it is, challenges me greatly, not just as a seminarian, but as a Catholic man. People are angry at the Church, and the people of God have a right to be but, unfortunately, the scandal has driven many people away from the faith. With that being said, who would want to enter the seminary with all that is going on in our Church? This is something that I ponder over each and every day.
I spent Vocation Awareness Weekend in November at All Saints Parish in Millville. I remember the pastor there, Fr Peter Idler, saying, “The Church is on fire, and instead of running away from the fire, seminarians are the ones running towards the fire to help put it out.” Fr Idler’s words are something I am never going to forget because it reminds me why I am in the seminary. Regardless of becoming a priest or not, I know right now that I need to discern the priesthood in the seminary because the Church needs good and holy men to combat the evils within and to clean the sins committed by previous generations. The seminary is designed to form good and holy men as “gentlemen of the faith.”
After completing my first semester in the seminary, I received a sense of who I really am and what I am capable of doing. As mentioned before, regardless if I am called to become a priest or not, I know that God wills for me to be in the seminary so that I can become a “gentleman of the faith”
During this past semester, prayer was very emphasized as a major part in forming my relationship with Christ and His Mother. I realize now that the only way to become a “gentleman of the faith” is to form that relationship with Jesus through deep personal prayer with the intersession of our Blessed Mother. This past fall, I completed the “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary” by St. Louis De Montfort. This consecration taught me that if one consecrates himself to our Blessed Mother, then one can come closer to Jesus himself. It’s amazing that if one gives himself completely to our Blessed Mother, one received more graces through her intersession than all of the saints combined! I couldn’t pass up this opportunity of doing this devotion because we, as seminarians, need the graces to defend the faith and help the Church overcome this dark time in Her history. Giving everything to our Blessed Mother, the Matriarch of the Catholic Church, is the only way to purify the Church of all the sins of its members, especially the hypocritical servants that were supposed to serve it, not abuse it.