Ordinandi respond to two simple questions How has a retreat that you attended before or during seminary influenced you, and what was your favorite class and why?

Originally Appeared in : 9911-5/23/19



Name: Patrick May
Seminary: Mount St. Mary’s, Emmitsburg, MD
Ordination to the Priesthood: June 1, 2019

After my third year of seminary, I attended the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha. During my eight-day silent retreat, I came to a peaceful finality with my discernment for the vocation to the priesthood.

My favorite course was Mariology. It was incredible to learn the theological influence and practical importance of Our Lady for the Christian life. Mary is the Father’s greatest creation, so without knowing and understanding her, the Christian life is incomplete.

Name: Theodore Agba
Seminary: St. Vincent de Paul, Boynton Beach, FL
Ordination to the Priesthood: July 6, 2019 (Nigeria)

I first considered the call to the priesthood when I was an altar server at the age of 10 and much of it was inspired by the great examples of priests that I came to know in my childhood and later from reading stories of saints like St. Francis and St. John Mary Vianney who joyfully gave their lives in service of God and humanity.

My favorite class in seminary was Pastoral Counseling because it gave me the opportunity to learn about the people of God and how I can be the face of Christ to them.

Name: Peter Lanshima
Seminary: St. Vincent de Paul, Boynton Beach, FL
Ordination to the Priesthood: July 6, 2019 (Nigeria)

In 2007 in Nigeria, I attended a discernment retreat organized by the Via Christi Society. Long before this, I started feeling God was calling me to be a priest. I ignored the call.  You cannot ignore or refuse God’s invitation to serve forever. During this retreat I was introduced to praying the liturgy of hours and meditation. Priests from different congregations and the diocese gave presentations about their different charisms. Having heard the priests speak to us about their vocations, I was immediately drawn to the missionary life. Since Via Christi was a society that began a few miles away from my home, I began getting closer to the society in order to know more about them. I went back to the same retreat the following year. However, it took me two more years before I finally made up my mind to pursue the priestly vocation. I cannot actually lay my hands on the reason why it took me two whole years to respond after the first retreat. I am now convinced that if I had spoken to someone (a priest or seminarian) about my desire to become a priest, it wouldn’t have taken me that long to go for it.

During my seminary formation, I did enjoy many of my classes. However, Scripture was my favorite. I love Scripture because our faith comes from hearing the Word of God as St. Paul says in Romans 10:17: “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” This word of Christ which St Paul talks about is recorded in Scripture. But since the message recorded in Scripture first came to a people whose experiences and perceptions were far removed from ours, the classes on Scripture help us understand the Scriptural message as the original receivers understood it. As a deacon, soon to be ordained a priest, understanding the Scriptural message in its original form will be invaluable in my preaching and teaching ministries.

Name: Solomon Kaanan
Seminary: St. Vincent de Paul, Boynton Beach, FL
Ordination to the Priesthood: July 7, 2019 (Nigeria)

I have attended several retreats during my seminary training, and each was meaningful to some extent; of course some were richer than others and these have impacted my discernment to this level in a very significant way. My vocation, however, came not from attending a retreat but from genuine, real life examples of the holiness and compassionate living of my parish pastors over the years in my parishes. One retreat that stood out clear for me was at the seminary on the topic “The role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a priest in a parish” from which I came to realize the Holy Spirit as my principal agent as a priest in the parish and its presence in all that concerns my ministry.                               

My favorite class or field in the seminary was pastoral theology. Here the basis of pastoral ministry is taught in different courses. The pastoral life of the priest is and has been my propelling desire to the priesthood and having these courses as tools for my future apostolate as a priest was the most exciting thing to learn and get myself familiar with it. All the pastoral classes were my favorite because they addressed the pastoral needs that I met and experienced during my summer assignments at the pastoral units within the diocese that I have served.

Name: Carlos Andres Rivero
Seminary: St. Vincent de Paul, Boynton Beach, FL
Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate: May 25, 2019

Throughout my life, I have been facing situations in which I have not known what to expect, and that was exactly what happened to me when, after finishing high school, I was given the opportunity to go to a spiritual retreat. There were five days in which I managed to find the answer to an infinity of unknowns that I had, to let go my fear and to tell Jesus, who is the person who loves me the most, everything I feel, but above all, I was able to establish a connection closer to that best friend, whom we all call God. I must confess that at the beginning it was not easy, from having to remain completely silent to deeper things such as the dialogue with the Lord. One can feel that sometimes he does not listen to us, but the truth is that I realized that he has been there for me at all times. It is true, we can not see him, but he is present in different ways; it is only a matter of opening our eyes a little to see beyond what the world wants to show us. This experience left me many lessons. I learned that dedicating a little of my time to God costs nothing: As Jesus said: "whoever knocks at the door will be opened" (Matthew 7:7), and in the same way, I must let him come into my life. After this experience, I felt called by God to the ministerial priesthood, and this is where my whole vocational adventure towards the priesthood began.

I do not have a favorite class. I really liked many classes, but I want to highlight the Hermeneutics class. I liked this class very much because it established the course so that I could make a careful interpretation of the Bible during the rest of my education in the seminary and during my first years of the homiletics class. I remember especially the famous "Sitz im Leben" There is no text without context.

Name: Nate Swann
Seminary: Mount St. Marys, Emmitsburg, MD
Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate: May 25, 2019

No, there isn’t one retreat that sticks out as being impactful, but each silent retreat and 40-hours retreat while in seminary helped me to feel more confident in my discernment, and allowed me to spend important time in prayer growing closer to the Lord.

My favorite classes during my time in seminary were my courses in Church History. Over the last two millennia, the Church has had many high points and low points, and even in these low points, we have seen that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail.” It’s important to be able to look back and see that the Church is made up of sinners and saints, just as it still is today, and we should strive to follow the examples set by those who followed in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

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