Thursday, March 29, 2012

Making It?

“Making it” to and through seminary comes in all shapes and sizes. For some, it is realized in having persisted through the diocesan screening/application process and then moving onto seminary. For others, “making it” is actualized in a journey of self-discovery which leads to other decisions: to vocations as a married person; as a committed lay minister; and to other life choices. “Making it” in seminary can mean persisting to the transitional diaconate and, then, onto priesthood.

At the risk of bursting a few bubbles, seminary is not always a transcendent series of events lived out in an idyllic locale populated by hyper-holy people. Cassocks and candles; solitude and study; piety and particular devotions are surely found in seminary. Jeans and GIRMs; noise and negativity; careful compliance and conflict are also found in seminary. Seminarians and the products of seminaries are human beings, after all, with the full range of warts, aspirations, gifts and limitations present among all of God’s People.

In my personal experience, I think there are three especially important factors which have enabled me to “make it” through seminary, to date. The first is found in relationships, particularly, in the creation of smaller groups of friends within the seminary community who end up serving to support and encourage you as well as to provide you with affirmation and the sometimes needed “kick in the pants.”

The second is found in prayer. I recall when I was accepted as a seminarian for Louisville that the late Archbishop Kelly told me to do one thing in seminary: pray! Wonderful and sage counsel, I believe.

The third is found in an openness to self-discovery. Even at my rather mature age, I still find myself learning about gifts which God has blessed me with as well as the limitations which I possess. A famous American politician once said, “I am not a perfect servant…as I develop and serve, be patient with me. God is not finished with me yet.” How true for all of us and maybe especially for those preparing for and engaged in ministry.

Oh yeah----and have fun! Noone likes an overly earnest seminarian or a priest with a smile which threatens to break his face. Next week: a review of recent events here at Sacred Heart School of Theology. Until then…



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