On August 23, several new seminarians from seven different dioceses were warmly greeted by an energetic orientation team whose introduction to seminary life was thoughtfully organized. The first priority of the team, led by Sulpician formators, was a profound focus on the primacy of spiritual commitment in the life of a seminarian. Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, and moments of reflection were offered throughout the week. In tandem with this, the first-years were counseled, with the help of faculty from the Schools of Philosophy and Theology and Religious Studies, in navigating academics at The Catholic University of America, either in the Basselin program or in the Theology trajectory of studies. In addition, TC’s Deacon Ed McCormack, coordinator of intellectual formation, guided each seminarian in individualized academic advising sessions. These spiritual and academic priorities can only be supported by a robust community life. The men came to appreciate this through sharing meals together, small group discussions, shopping and DC scavenger hunt excursions, campus tours, evening socials and movie nights, and invitations to participate in activities proposed by the Student Government Association. Orientation participants greeted the return of the entire community at the end of the week at the traditional Friday courtyard barbeque, followed by the Saturday day of recollection and Sunday opening Mass and banquet.
During the homily at the opening Mass, on the 238th anniversary of the death of St. Junipero Serra, TC’s rector, Rev. Dominic Ciriaco, P.S.S., highlighted two enduring qualities of that inspiring saint: humility and his drive to always move forward in his mission of service to the Church. For the seminarian to thrive during his years of formation, he too needs humility – to listen and observe, to ask and pray for help, to learn from mistakes… There will never be such a time as that of intense seminary formation to grow in faith, just as Serra spent nine years in Mexico to listen and learn how to build a mission. And his “Always forward, never back” motto led him to found 21 Spanish missions from San Diego to San Francisco. As the seminarian commits himself more deeply to the call of God, year by year, he can be enlivened by the example of this saint’s drive, which was fed by a true and humble dependence on God, who will always bring His good work to completion. This dependence was well expressed by St. Augustine, whose feast day all were celebrating: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” The Mass was punctuated by the Rite of Welcome for new members of the community, who signed the “Book of Inscription,” and the rector’s blessing of the theologians who had just returned from their pastoral year assignments.
The Eucharistic celebration was followed by a joyful reception and banquet. The TC community was greatly honored to host the new Catholic University President, Peter Kilpatrick, and his wife Nancy, who had just moved into Nugent Hall. After dinner, Dr. Kilpatrick shared a little bit about himself before taking questions from the community. This exchange revealed his wholehearted commitment to Catholic education and to the ministry of faith formation at the university. He vowed to accompany TC closely in its own fidelity to the same ideals. Father Ciriaco closed the evening with a paternal boost of encouragement for the outset of the semester: “The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day!” (St. Frances de Sales)
Please join us in our prayers for all who are discerning and working toward a life of priestly service, and for all who support them along their path of formation!