Called by Name

The church is universal, and nowhere has that been more apparent to me than at our Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. In my first three months as rector, I have been blessed and pastorally challenged by the diverse backgrounds and needs of our parishioners. After three Masses in English each weekend, our 1 p.m. Spanish Mass welcomes the largest single crowd of the bunch. The pews are truly full at that Mass, it’s pretty cool to see. We seek to serve this diverse community by offering catechesis in both English and Spanish, and I am consistently depending on our bilingual parishioners to help me with homily translations.

Father Nick Adam
Father Nick Adam

In order to serve this community well, facility with the Spanish language is vital. I have some Spanish skills, but not enough, and it is so difficult to find time as a pastor, or as an associate pastor for that matter, to go for an immersion experience in Mexico or Central America. With this in mind, we are going to send several of our seminarians to Cuernavaca, Mexico this coming summer for a two-month immersive experience. This experience is organized by St. Meinrad Seminary, and it is hosted by the Benedictine Monastery of Our Lady of the Angels outside Cuernavaca, which is about an hour and a half from Mexico City (if the traffic is good).

I visited the monastery to observe this program back in July and I was very impressed. Not only do the seminarians get one-on-one instruction from teachers four hours a day, but they also take part in the liturgical life of the monastery, and so the needs of their spiritual life are nurtured while this very practical program plays out. In the future all of our seminarians will be required to take part in this immersion as a part of their second summer in our program, but since the need is urgent and this program is helpful, we are going to send four of our guys (Ryan Stoer, Tristan Stovall, Will Foggo and Grayson Foley) down there this summer to get things kicked off, and I will be going to Mexico with them. I certainly could use the practice, and I hope that this will be a blessed time of camaraderie and fraternity as we take this adventure together.

My first thoughts about a required immersion experience began to take shape a few years ago when I visited the Diocese of Little Rock. Spanish immersion seemed to be a real point of cohesion for their seminarians, and it certainly is a great gift to the Hispanic Catholics in that diocese. Little Rock has consistently had over 20 seminarians, and their demographics are pretty close to ours, so I think they must be doing something right! I am pleased that we are getting this off the ground, and I pray that this will be a great opportunity for our seminarians to grow in love of the church, and the people they will serve, as future priests of the diocese.