On August 21st our brothers Brian, Josh and Randy will receive from our bishop the Ministry of Candidacy. The Ministry of Candidacy is a public acknowledgment that these young men are being called on to further studies, prayer and discernment for the gift of priesthood. The Admission to Candidacy also offers the candidates for ordination an opportunity to publicly express their intention to receive Holy Orders. They will be invited to enter with greater intentional discernment and formation; to make the most of their time in seminary, take advantage of all that is provided for them to grow spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, and humanly. One of the things the Church is asking of these young men is to be willing to hone the important and rare skill of listening. Not just listening with the ears, but more so with the heart and an open mind, to listen to their professors and spiritual directors. Through this they will learn the way of a servant, and not just seek facts and knowledge but to seek wisdom. In this they will hear God’s voice calling them as he did young Samuel. “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
God bless, Fr. Dennis
These first 10 weeks of summer have absolutely flown by. The last nine weeks at the Institute for Priestly Formation in Nebraska were an incredible gift. I was blessed to have a little more time with many of my classmates from Saint John Vianney and get to know many other guys from all around the country. I was also blessed to begin to encounter God in a more profound way in daily life. I have become much more aware of the Lord reaching out to me in ordinary events of my day and his hand at work. This reality is nothing new but thanks to the eight-day silent retreat and the classes I have taken, I have become so much more conscious of it. The Lord has given me so many other graces from my time at IPF and I look forward to seeing how he continues to develop them as I enter Sacred Heart this Fall. I also am excited to start studying theology. I have enjoyed my time studying philosophy but ultimately it does not impact or feed my prayer life like theology does. I am also looking forward to living close to the Diocese so I can be more involved with Diocesan events and get to know more of the priests and people of the Diocese, who I will be serving in the future. Please keep me and all of the seminarians in your prayers and know that we are praying for you as well.
Being in Omaha, Nebraska for the Institute of Priestly Formation this summer was my favorite summer assignment since entering seminary. At IPF, we took four classes, along with a few seminars and an eight-day silent retreat, so each day looked like life in seminary during the school year, though with more free time. It was refreshing to be able to pray whenever I wanted during the day, without having so many required events and work to do. This made it easier for me to be aware of God’s personal presence to me in day-to-day life and realize how He is working through “ordinary” things to show His love for me. God is constantly relating to me, and through this summer, I feel like I am now able to notice and respond to Him better. Additionally, I feel challenged to give God my all. In the lives of the saints, we see so many examples of men and women who have given themselves totally in love to God; I want to live as totally and as radically as they did, even in the small responsibilities of everyday life. As we approach the school year, I am looking forward to being at Sacred Heart Major Seminary with a new community. I am excited to take classes which will be primarily about the faith – I will be able to pray with the content! Finally, I want to continue to notice God in everyday life, even as things get busier. Whatever changes may come with the new school year, I won’t be going through them alone!
My summer enrollment in the Institute of Priestly Formation has been filled with spiritual growth and healthy recreation as I transition from minor to major seminary. Over the summer, I have learned to live in my own spiritual poverty. I have always struggled with self-reliance and the Father is inviting me to rely on his strength instead of my own. As Jesus says: “Without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5) and as St. Paul writes: “When I am weak, it is then that I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). When I face a trial in life, my instinct is to muster up enough willpower and try to push through it (which rarely works). I am now learning to not only accept my weakness, but to choose to live in it. Seeing the fruit of this change in my spiritual life has been very encouraging. When I choose to live in my poverty, I stay in relationship with the Trinity throughout the day instead of going off on my own. It has also been a great opportunity to see the Father provide for me in my weakness. It has shocked me to see how deeply and concretely the Father desires to provide for me if only I allow Him to do so. Another grace that this change has brought about is a stretching of my heart. When I have a desire that I know I cannot fulfill myself, it is hard for me to stay there in my lack or poverty. Seeing something that I need but that I cannot acquire for myself is painful but staying in the pain and poverty of that desire is what stretches my heart in order to receive what I desire. God is continually inviting me to stay in my poverty and desire for Him so that my heart stretches, and I am able to receive more of Him.
Thank you all for your generosity with the Can Drive this summer. Whether you helped out with the drive itself or simply donated cans, we are very grateful for your support. You are all in our prayers. ~Randy, Brian and Josh