Vocations. One of my goals as the rector of St. John Fisher. Open Wide the Doors to Seminary! SPECIAL ISSUE: St. John Fisher Seminary.

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1 Fall 2012 Pray for Vocations to the Priesthood One of my goals as the rector of St. John Fisher Seminary is to open up the doors to dispel any mystery about seminary life. This issue of Vocations is dedicated to showing our diocesan seminary for what it truly is: a wonderful, vibrant, and healthy place for a young man to continue discerning a vocation to priesthood. Blessed Pope John Paul II profoundly influenced many aspects of the Church, and seminary formation is no exception. His landmark work Pastores Dabo Vobis (I Will Give you Shepherds) spelled out four distinct pillars of seminary formation: Human formation: forming the future priests personality to be a bridge to Christ; ensuring healthy psycho-sexual development and a mature integrity. Spiritual formation: developing a deep and mature relationship with Christ through prayer and virtuous living. Intellectual formation: understanding the truths of the Faith and cultivating the skills to teach the Faith to others. Pastoral formation: learning how to be a shepherd of souls, helping parishioners through the joys and trials of life. Bridgeport Vocations SPECIAL ISSUE: St. John Fisher Seminary Open Wide the Doors to Seminary! A note from Fr. Robert Kinnally, Vocation Director and Seminary Rector It s a real joy and honor for me to help men mature in these four areas. Our staff and faculty take our responsibility to train priests seriously, but we also have a lot of fun, as you ll see inside. In 2014 our seminary will celebrate its 25th anniversary, and we hope the entire diocese will join us in thanking God for the many fine priests who once called St. John Fisher home. facebook.com/bridgeportvocations

2 Bridgeport Vocations Forming Solid Christian Men Human Formation: helping men mold their human personalities to be bridges to Christ. Blessed John Paul II viewed basic human formation as foundational for future priests: In order that his ministry may be humanly as credible and acceptable as possible, it is important that the priest should mold his human personality in such a way that it becomes a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ. To help with human formation, our seminary has a Community Life Committee, which helps to build camaraderie among seminarians. We help to make the seminary a comfortable place to be, getting men to come together as a community, said chairman Jorge Perez. They organize activities like movie nights, soccer games, and recently, a beach trip. On a more serious level, members of the formation team work with the seminarians one-on-one to come to terms with family issues and other personal challenges. The aim is to aid our future priests to be stable, virtuous men ready for a lifetime of service. 2

3 Learning to Fall in Love with God Spiritual Formation: helping men to deepen their relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Every morning and evening, men at our seminary pray the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church for clergy and religious. They also attend daily Mass together and spend time in personal prayer. The goal of this spiritual regimen is nothing less than to bring men into communion with the Trinity, to foster a deep and abiding personal relationship with God. Of course, most men entering seminary already have a great love for their faith. But with the aid of a personal spiritual director and the fraternal support of brother seminarians, the years spent in seminary are a time of deep spiritual growth. Spiritual Direction ur seminarians give us such a sense of hope for the Ofuture of the Church, said Fr. Michael Lyons, who joined the seminary staff this summer as a spiritual director. When people visit the seminary, they are impressed with how bright and talented the men are. On the most basic level, Fr. Lyons job is to provide individualized spiritual direction for each man, depending on the man s background and experience. The younger guys are coming from a society in which everything is moving so fast, observed Fr. Lyons. Sometimes they need to learn to slow down and just sit with God. Six years of studying for priesthood can seem like an eternity to them. So I try to help them to adjust to God s time, not Internet time. Over time, with the help of a spiritual director, seminarians gain the self-knowledge and love of God they need to advance toward ordination. 3

4 Integrating Faith and Reason Intellectual Formation: providing the academic foundation for pastoral ministry efore the rubber hits Bthe road, you ve got to know the road, quips Fr. Kinnally. He s referring to the fact that college-level seminarians are not yet engaged in intensive formation to be priests, but instead are focusing on the basics of our faith. First and foremost, college seminary is a time to learn how to live as virtuous Christian men. Intellectual formation coursework in philosophy and theology takes up a great deal of seminarians time. At the college level, we re equipping the men with the philosophical knowledge to grapple with the big questions of the faith which they ll encounter in major seminary, said Fr. Kinnally. But classes are just one part of seminary life. Seminary is not just school, said Fr. Kinnally, It s a huge undertaking of forming the whole person, of equipping him to be a credible witness. We want our men to be able to answer complex questions that their parishioners ask. We want them to be able to preach well so people understand what we believe as Catholics, he said. Part of the seminary process is integrating Fall 2012 For most classes, the men at St. John Fisher travel to Sacred Heart University, Fordham, and St. Johns University in Queens. Other specialized courses are taught in-house, with the credits being handled through the universities. intellectual knowledge with personal spirituality. Men literally bring their textbooks into the chapel to pray about what they re learning. As seminary progresses, men often find it very rewarding to discover how their prayer and study is preparing them for work in the parish. We work very hard; the formation and curriculum is very demanding, said Fr. Kinnally. Our goal is for our future priests to be fully available for the people and to serve them well. Most priests attend at least two different seminaries during the course of formation. Fr. Mike Novajosky studied at three St. John Fisher, Catholic University, and the North American College in Rome before being ordained in He now juggles several assignments in our diocese, serving as parochial vicar at St. Jude in Monroe and the chaplain at St. Joseph High School in Trumball. This fall, he enjoyed a homecoming of sorts by taking on an additional job as an adjunct faculty member at St. John Fisher teaching Contemporary Philosophy. 4

5 Bridgeport Vocations Shepherds After My Own Heart Pastoral Formation: training priests to serve people joyfully in a typical parish setting I n a sense, all seminary training has its end in pastoral formation. The whole point of study and prayer is to equip priests to serve people in parish settings, since parish assignments make up the vast majority of assignments in the Diocese of Bridgeport. At the college level, this preparation often means becoming comfortable with the rhythms of parish life. On most weekends, seminarians serve at the altar and as lectors in various parishes. The time in parishes truly aids them in their discernment, said Fr. Kinnally. They can learn about themselves about how comfortable they feel working with young people or the elderly, for example. Just being among the parishioners can really help them understand God s call, he said. It s also good for the parishes, Fr. Kinnally pointed out. It gives people a sign of hope because we have so many seminarians serving. One pastor told me he could really see an impact after just a couple of weeks. He told me, We re so proud to have a seminarian in our parish. Seminary Life, Then and Now The first seminary in America was founded in Today there are more than 70 seminaries in 24 states training men to serve as priests. Fr. Joe Malloy has been ordained for 42 years, and has some perspective on how seminary life has changed. When I started seminary, courses were still in Latin, he said. It was very, very strict. We were allowed to leave the seminary only one afternoon a week. We were not allowed radios, televisions, or even secular magazines! I missed the whole assassination of John F. Kennedy because I was in seminary. Today, seminary is a much more open experience, comparable to a modern university, albeit with a strong fraternity among the seminarians and an emphasis on prayer and virtue. Fr. Malloy collaborates with St. John Fisher Seminary by providing a room in his rectory for seminarians who don t have family nearby. For example, some of our foreign-born seminarians are able to relax at St. Clement s over a holiday weekend. It s like a home away from home for them, said Fr. Malloy. I m always happy to welcome them here. While at St. Clement s, seminarians get a taste of rectory life, serve at Masses, and generally experience the life of a parish priest. It s a great experience for our guys, especially those who are still becoming accustomed to U.S. culture and customs, said Fr. Kinnally. I m grateful for Fr. Joe and all the other priests who help give our men a well-rounded pastoral experience. 5

6 A Life of Love, Service, and Joy Could God be calling you to the religious life? The best way to find out is by attending Come and See retreats to pray about your vocation and get to know specific religious communities. Upcoming retreats: Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Dec. 7-9, Hamden, CT Contact Sr. Colleen Smith, ASCJ (203) Sisters of Life Nov. 8-11, Stamford, CT March 21-24, Stamford, CT Contact Sr. Antoniana Maria, S.V. (718) Imagine Sisters Becoming a religious sister is for women who want to fall in love with Jesus and give themselves totally to serve others. Imagine Sisters is a web and campus-based movement that aims to inspire the imaginations of young women to consider the beautiful call to consecrated life as a sister. imaginesisters.org facebook.com/imaginesisters The Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Mary Immaculate Third Fiday of the month 1111 Wordin Ave, Bridgeport, CT Contact Sr. Aida Ramirez, (203) Diocese of Bridgeport Office of Vocations If you feel called to become a priest, contact the Vocation Director: Fr. Bob Kinnally, (203) Jewett Ave, Bridgeport, CT

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