I would like to offer my greatest thanks to all the generous sponsors and attendees of our first ever Homegrown Harvest Gala and Fundraiser. The Lord continues to call forth workers for the harvest, and we are seeking to respond from all sides here in the Diocese of Jackson. The incredible support of so many, both spiritually and financially, is a great encouragement to me and to all of our seminarians. This year’s gala was held virtually on Oct. 9 and you can watch a replay of it on our Vocations Facebook page (facebook.com/jacksonpriests). I look forward to sharing with you the results of our gala in the next issue of the Mississippi Catholic.
Earlier this month, I took three young men on a tour of the grounds of the seminaries that we currently use for formation, Notre Dame in New Orleans and St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington.
These trips are invaluable to a young man who is beginning to consider that he may have a call to the priesthood. I remember the first time I visited the seminary: Father Frank Cosgrove drove me down on Super Bowl weekend 2012 to Covington and we arrived just as the bells were tolling for monastic evening prayer. Of course, I had no idea what monastic Evening Prayer was, all I saw was a line of monks clad in all black processing two by two into the Church while we tried to figure out where the heck to go! This was just what I thought seminary would be like: intense and intimidating.
I quickly realized, however, that this was not the measure of seminary life. As I sheepishly entered the seminarian refectory (cafeteria), I was shocked to see that there was a Super Bowl party going on. There was a huge pot of gumbo on and the guys were settling in to watch the game together. They were having fun! They were normal people! And even the monks, who run the seminary, quickly revealed the great joy that they have in their vocation as I met with the rector of the seminary and some the other priests on staff.
This experience has driven me ever since to try to get guys who are open to priesthood to “come and see” what seminary life is all about. I was especially grateful on this trip for our six men who are in formation, all of whom stepped up and gave great witness to our guests. It is these trips, these conversations, these interactions, and these moments for prayer that allow many men to take the final plunge and start the application process. The money that we raise for tuition gives us flexibility in offering experiences for men who are not yet in seminary formation. I am trying to run this department with a view of the whole, and the money raised to offset our largest budget item is a great gift to all of the men who are benefitting from a top notch seminary formation, as well as the men and women who are taking part in other programs that are being offered to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life.