Seminarians transition to summer activity and change of ministries

by Father James Wilcox

7/7/2015

Fr. James Wilcox is vocations director for the Diocese of Fort Worth.

Summer is a time when dual experiences in our lives tend to converge. Specifically, summer offers a respite from the ordinary bustle of work and school life. 

Simultaneously, these days offer the flurry of activities including camping, vacations, summer jobs, swimming, and an array of summer camps for band, cheerleading, scouts, football, etc. So while there is rest from the commonplace commotion, it is replaced by the hubbub of different happenings.

Our seminarians are experiencing this phenomenon as well. Most of our men are assigned to various parishes throughout the diocese to live with the priest, follow in his daily activities, and most importantly, minister to the people. Many of you have welcomed them by opening your hearts and your homes. Your fruitful influence on their formation during these summer months is a beautiful witness to your own call to live the Gospel message. Thank you!

As our men are sent — often in pairs as the disciples were in the Gospels — they too have left behind the daily routine of seminary life in exchange for the summer hum of parish activities. Often we think of summer as a “down time” in the parish, however, in my experience, it is anything but boring. With activities like Vacation Bible School, DCYC, camps, youth trips, and the like, parishes move from the ordinary to the extraordinary ways of allowing the light of Jesus Christ to shine in their lives. Reports from seminarians in parishes indicate that they have been enjoying these activities.

Other seminarians have taken an assignment further south, Guatemala to be exact, for a Spanish immersion experience. While they live with host families and take Spanish classes and tutoring from the local school, these men are encountering the love of Jesus Christ as part of the Universal Church. This broad perspective and gaining skills in language will allow them to serve more people throughout our diocese upon ordination.  

New seminarians have been through the application and acceptance process, and now they are underway, making preparations to begin officially with the diocese at the beginning of August. They are in the midst of leaving behind the comfort of what is known, to pour their lives fully into the hands of Jesus Christ through the seminary formation process. 

They are living out the words of Jesus Christ: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25). Most men in this situation have a dual experience as well. They are excited about the road ahead and anxious about the unknown.

This dual experience of emotions is true for much of our lives. For new parents, the excitement of a baby is tempered by the nervousness of parenthood. For employees, the start of a new job brings enthusiasm for the adventure along with the humbling realization of not knowing the lay of the land.  

In our spiritual life and in hearing the call of God for our life, all Christians are called to live in the midst of the convergence of dual experiences: the anticipatory feeling of desire and longing to do God’s will in the midst of the peace and consolation of receiving a whisper of God’s voice in prayer. Then, once one hears the voice of God leading them on their path, the courage and confidence to answer is only possible with the support and encouragement of others.

It is this intimate relationship with God through prayer that allows all of us to bask in the goodness of the convergence of experiences. Keep your prayer and sacramental life strong this summer, whether your adventures take you traveling across the U.S. or simply across the county to explore the lakes now full of water (Praise be to God!). Please keep the encouragement and prayers going for those who are working to answer the call of God. 

Summer is a time when dual experiences in our lives tend to converge. Specifically, summer offers a respite from the ordinary bustle of work and school life. Simultaneously, these days offer the flurry of activities including camping, vacations, summer jobs, swimming, and an array of summer camps for band, cheerleading, scouts, football, etc. 

Published