Every Palm Sunday weekend, St. Joseph Seminary College hosts a “Come and See” experience for young men. This has been a very important retreat for many of our current and former seminarians because it gives them an up-close look at what seminary life is really like. One of the biggest challenges in vocation promotion is trying to overcome perceptions that we have about seminary formation. I know that before I actually went and saw the seminary, I thought it was much more like a monastery. I expected to see people quietly praying and being very serious all the time. Of course, we all hope that there is lots of prayer in seminary life, and there is, but there is also vibrant community life. This is what is highlighted most clearly at the St. Ben’s Come and See (as I’ve said before, St. Joseph is colloquially known as St. Ben’s since it is a Benedictine monastery!)
The men arrive on Friday night and have a big crawfish boil which some local Knights of Columbus Council put on. The weekend is filled with talks about seminary life, and there are lots of opportunities to play sports throughout the days on campus. The weekend is rounded off with “Emaus walks,” where current seminarians pair off with Come and See participants to give them a listening ear to process what they have seen and heard over the weekend. After this, every goes to Palm Sunday Mass at the Abbey Church on campus. This is the highlight of the weekend as huge palms are waved throughout the sanctuary and the nave of the Church. The monks of St. Joseph Abbey take great care in their Holy Week liturgies, and it is inspiring to the visitors.
I ask you to regularly pray for men discerning the priesthood. There are many obstacles that are placed in front of young men even as they make the first steps in a healthy discernment. Distractions can seem much more distracting, fears can become much more pronounced and sometimes the Lord’s voice can get drowned out by the many voices in the culture which do not prioritize the Lord. We have several young men actively discerning whether the seminary would be right for them right now, please keep them in prayer, and simply pray that God’s will be done! Satan does not want good and holy priests, and he wants to shut off the possibility of priesthood at the earliest moments, so pray a St. Michael prayer and ask the Archangel to intercede as these men consider their call and fight against distractions in their discernment.