Turning to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The priest should be entirely consumed in Christ through love.
–Father Jean-Jacques Olier
Dear Alumni and Friends:
In the foyer of Theological College, as one looks to the right of the main entrance doors before exiting the building, there is an impressive wooden statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a niche. The large statue was donated to the seminary in the early years of its opening and it used to grace the front altar area of the chapel. It is the work of an Italian artist named Pellegrini and it was completed and installed in 1926. Christ points one of his hands toward his heart arrayed in gold. How many countless seminarians gazed upon this statue and offered their prayers to the Heart of Jesus! They trusted their prayers to him in their struggles and difficulties as well as in their joys and triumphs during their time here at the seminary as they prepared for a life of ministry.
As it was then, so it is now. More than ever we turn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for comfort and guidance during these trying times. How appropriate, as the year 2020 marks two anniversaries associated with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is the 100th anniversary (1920) of the canonization of the visionary of the Sacred Heart, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. It is also the 300th anniversary (1720) of the first public consecration and worship of the Sacred Heart devotion in Marseille, as, during a ravaging pestilence, the people there turned to the Sacred Heart for help — marking the beginning of that city’s deliverance from the final outbreak of the Bubonic plague in Western Europe. Now, in 2020, we face a similar situation with a type of plague (COVID-19) that presently threatens our world. Just as the statue of the Sacred Heart here at TC strengthened and encouraged seminarians in the past, so it does for us today.
We are blessed to have been able to open the seminary for the 2020 fall semester amidst this pandemic. We are following the proper protocols to assist us in our daily living. Seminarians have risen to the occasion to navigate through these days with faith, charity, and great patience. We know this too will pass, but as we live with Zoom classes and limited interactions, we are learning how to minister to God’s people with compassion and understanding through the lessons of COVID-19.
As Pope Francis has written in his latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti (released on October 4, 2020):
No one can face life in isolation… We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we can help one another to keep looking ahead. How important it is to dream together… By ourselves, we risk seeing mirages, things that are not there. Dreams, on the other hand, are built together. Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.
What a beautiful way to face this pandemic together. What a beautiful way to prepare priests to face the challenges ahead. Father Jean-Jacques Olier wrote, “The priest should be entirely consumed in Christ through love.” As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Pastoral Formation Program, may this inspiration guide us and direct the mission of TC for years to come.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, pray for us!
Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!
May God be Praised,
Rev. Dominic Ciriaco, P.S.S.