“So many of you have asked about how our former seminarian intern is doing at seminary. So, in place of my column this Sunday, I’ve asked him to share how his first year of seminary has gone.” – Fr. Chas Canoy
It truly doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was saying my goodbyes to St. John Church and St. Joseph Oratory as I prepared to head off to seminary. Now, nearly a year has passed by and how fast the time has flown! My time in seminary thus far has been both challenging and rewarding, and I would like to share with you all some of the blessings of the year.
Priestly formation has many aspects, one of which is academics, which was how much of my time was spent this past year. I studied quite a bit of philosophy, and I will study more philosophy next year in preparation to study theology the year after that. I also spent time studying languages, I studied Latin for a year, and for the first part of this summer I was sent to Guatamala and Belize for six weeks to pick up some Spanish. ¡Hola hermanos y hermanas!
Another aspect of seminary I would like to share with you all is some of the pastoral formation that I underwent last year. Every week for several hours I brought communion to people in a state run nursing home in Detroit. Undoubtedly, this time has had a huge impact on my vocation. There was something both awesome and rewarding in bringing and encountering Jesus in this ministry. I will never forget one instance where I encountered a woman who was quite impaired and unable to speak. I couldn’t give her communion, but I prayed with her and told her that Jesus loved her. Then, she smiled at me, and I will never forget the joy and happiness I saw in her smile, it was as if in a small way Jesus smiled at me. I also remember feeling that in that moment, this woman had no one to pray for her except me, and that when much of the world had already written her off, I was going to minister to her. This was a moment that gave me conviction and confidence that Jesus was growing a priestly heart in me after his own, and a moment that really swelled my own desire to give my life to God as a priest.
One final blessing I would like to share with you all has been the incredible fraternity that I have encountered in the seminary. Living with a group of others who are truly “all in” for the Lord has been inspirational for me, and knowing that I have such support in my brother seminarians has given me peace during the harder times of my formation. This brotherhood is built up in many ways, by praying together, by eating together, by informal chats, or games played in spare time. It has also been refreshing to see that these seminarians are just ordinary people like me and you.
Overall, this has been a very good year. It’s funny as I think about it, in many ways I have been challenged and stretched in ways that I had never been before, and at times seminary life can feel very busy and hectic. Yet, honestly I am the happiest I have ever been in my life, and I am grateful to God that he has called me to discern a priestly calling and to reorder my life to fulfill that calling. Next year I will enter my Pre-Theology II year, my final year before I officially become a candidate for holy orders. It will be a time of much prayer and study, so please pray for me and for all my brother seminarians. On a final note, I would once again like to thank you all for taking me in last year to help out at your parish, and for welcoming me back throughout these months. My time in the parish has been invaluable, and I often look back to it when I am in seminary, as I contemplate the future life as a priest that the Lord is probably calling me to. God bless you all!
~Mark Martin II