From the Pastor: A Penny For Your Prayers
Lent is underway and beautiful things are happening at Epiphany. One particularly wonderful Lenten penance undertaken by many of you is the “Prayers and Pennies for Semmies” dreamed up by our Ladies Guild. They got their idea from the diocesan vocation program called “Penny a Prayer for Priests” and asked to do something similar as a “memory device” to remind people to pray for vocations to the priesthood, being especially mindful of the current seminarians and future vocations from our own families. Unfortunately, I failed to explain the purpose of the program well enough for many (or most) people to understand. I hope to remedy that situation here, so please keep reading.
We currently have two seminarians which we claim from our parish because they attended Epiphany when they entered the seminary. Makes sense, right? Joshua Heiman is studying for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a religious order founded in France and dedicated to the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass and the other sacraments in their traditional forms. Many of you already support him financially (he has to pay for his tuition and other expenses as he goes through the required schooling) via his GoFundMe page. If you don’t know the page, shoot me an email and I can get it for you. On that page, even without donating, you can keep up with what he is doing, as he posts occasional updates on his studies and seminary life. The ICKSP will even give you a tax deduction under some pretty strict guidelines. They will also allow you to contact him by mail or email, again under some pretty strict guidelines, as they keep a watchful eye on those under their formative care.
The second current seminarian, Esteban Merkt, is officially studying for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and is being “sponsored” by the diocese of St. Augustine. His family still attends here and you all just helped his sister Valeria raise funds to travel to the Home of the Mother convent in Spain to further discern a religious vocation with that community. (This is probably a good time to notify you that we expect to have a “Cents for Sisters” program for the girls in Religious formation this coming Advent!) Evidently, his diocese is not quite as keen on allowing such things as GoFundMe accounts so he was not able to set something up. He and his family are, like Josh, responsible for paying his way through seminary. (When I was there 500 years ago, the seminarians for this diocese had to pay tuition and expenses at the minor seminary and then, once at the major seminary, the diocese took over the tuition costs. I am not sure if it works that way for the St. Augustine seminarians, or even for our own diocesan seminarians for that matter, for things do change over the centuries.) Ask me, or, better yet, his mother, for his contact information.
This next group of men I will refrain from naming but you may know who they are anyway. We had one man in seminary for the Jesuits but he is back with us now for a while as he continues to discern which order God wills that he enter. Another of our men, who was studying to be a Benedictine monk, has switched parishes and I haven’t seen him in quite a while. One of our diocesan seminarians shows up every once in a while with his dad at the men’s Holy League when he gets a break from school for a few days. Yet another comes for daily Mass when he gets in town, even though he, too, officially belongs to another parish. And, finally, one of our parishioners went off to the Franciscan University in Steubenville and is now in the beginning stage of applying for the seminary for our diocese.
But I have become somewhat sidetracked. Why are we collecting pennies? NOT for the money! Yes, they can always use money. But they need something much more than that. Prayers. Collecting Pennies for Semmies is supposed to remind you to pray often for the men who will become, by the grace of God, priests. Scrounge around for a penny. Pick it up and say a prayer for the seminarian who will benefit from it. Put the penny in the box and say another prayer for vocations. This is a “whole family” prayer event. Even the little kids can search the sidewalk and couch cushions and grandpa’s pockets for these pennies (or quarters or fifty-dollar bills) and then say a Hail Mary for future priests. Soon they will actively be searching for pennies so that they can pray more! This form of Lenten Prayerful Almsgiving can become a year-round habitual virtue. It brings not just your family but all Epiphany Families together in a united form of prayer, and sets the proper tone for all true charitable giving, which is often overlooked even when giving to the Church! We must pray for our seminarians if we expect to have holy priests!
Return your box(es) on Palm Sunday. You may run out of room, as the boxes are kid-sized. That’s OK. Use a jar or convert your coins to bills or check (made out to Ladies Guild). The women plan to send the money to the seminarians on Divine Mercy Sunday (Low Sunday), the Sunday following Easter, with prayers for a merciful and glorious “resurrection” of the priesthood (as opposed to what we see in the news all too often). I hope this helps you make cents of this prayer program!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka