Returning to Seminary: Catholic Telegraph Intern Reflects on Unique Year
Last semester began normally for seminarians with the usual routine of communal prayer, classes and social obligations. Even after spring break in March, life seemed normal. However, as the reality of pandemic began to set in, life evolved on a seemingly daily basis. I don’t think the reality of the situation truly hit us until our rector announced at our evening Holy Hour that we would be going home for the rest of the semester. Stunned, we tried to enjoy our last few days together as a community. It was a surreal atmosphere, to say the least.
Dispersing to our various homes and parishes, we had to finish out the spring semester of seminary… without seminary. This was certainly not an easy transition. We went through the struggle of conducting classes via video chat, but the greatest hardship was the loss of communal prayer life and, especially, the daily celebration of Mass. I felt disappointed for my brother seminarians who were preparing to be ordained to the diaconate and the priesthood. What is usually a joyful time of year, filled with hope and expectation, turned instead to a time of uncertainty and trepidation. Please remember our new priests in your prayers as they begin their ministry in these tumultuous times.
Before the pandemic set in, I had the opportunity to accept a summer internship at The Catholic Telegraph. I was thrilled to have this new experience and the opportunity to put my undergraduate degree in Communications to good use. Thankfully, despite the capriciousness of the present crisis, I was able to begin my internship as planned. My time with The Catholic Telegraph has given me a behind-the-scenes look at the complex process of publishing a magazine, and it has been a fascinating experience to be involved in the steps from conception to final publication. While the atmosphere at The Telegraph has been far from normal during this time of pandemic, it has been a productive and fulfilling summer. I feel thankful for this opportunity, even under the circumstances.
How will the fall look? I don’t think anyone knows at this point. I expect to be physically back at the seminary this August for classes, but nothing is for certain. In this time, I think it is important to reflect on the virtue of hope. While hope is often the most underrated of the theological virtues, it should permeate every aspect of our lives as Christians. Hope is not a fleeting emotion or feeling, but a firm disposition which rests on our faith in Christ and His love for us. Hope orders us to the Kingdom of Heaven, while also giving us perseverance for the trials of this life. Therefore, during the trials and uncertainty of COVID-19, we should put our hope in Christ, for as the world is turning, Christ is the only constant.
This time of pandemic should remind people of the importance of the Mass and the sacraments. It was easy for me to take Mass for granted when it was just a short walk to the seminary chapel, but my perspective shifted dramatically after the lockdown. We had to endure an involuntary fast from the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith. Let us use this time to reflect on God’s great gift of the Mass and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and to never take these gifts for granted.
Finally, as we continue to weather the storm, may we turn to our Blessed Mother, that we always have hope in her Son, and ever more strive to conform our life to Him, even in the most difficult and unsettling of times.
This article appeared in the August issue of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.