From the Pastor: Welcome Home, Seminarian!
This week please greet Ryan Caesar with open arms as he returns home for a short summer visit. He has been undergoing the rigors of First Year in a Jesuit Seminary. Since I am a diocesan priest, rather than an order priest, I do not know how his first year differs from what I underwent, but if it is anything at all alike, it was a challenging year. The first year is basically like Marine Boot Camp. The system is tough to get used to, “freedom” is lost (the older and more independent the man going in, the more difficult this part is), studies are very different than what was imagined (making it more difficult to buckle down and work hard) and personal flaws come to the surface in ways never before experienced as both God (trying to heal) and Satan (trying to harm) influence and try the seminarians in various ways. Prayer life changes, sometimes seeming better, other times seeming much, much worse. Exercise patterns, sleep patterns, work patterns all need readjusting. Everything that can go wrong does. It is a very intense year. Many men bail before it is done. Those who survive, whether they later determine that God is not calling them to the priesthood or they continue all the way through ordination, are better off for having stayed through it. It is a badge of honor. It puts questions to rest. It brings peace. But it is tough!
Ryan is supposed to be with us for two weeks after having just completed this crash course in holiness, integrity, and manliness. I have not had the chance to speak with him yet about his experience, and, since it is his rather than mine, I will not make up any stories about what has happened to him since last July. But remember, he has spent a year under the direct supervision of the JESUITS! There are no stories which have ever come to my fertile (another word for you know what) imagination which can possibly compare to being under JESUIT influence for a year. The Jesuits (OK, I’ll stop using all caps) have spawned such diverse offspring as... well, I thought better of naming names. I get into enough trouble without calling out by name some of the worst publicly scandalous teachers of immorality who belong to this group. They also produce, of course, some of the most intellectually gifted and truly Catholic priests who are great teachers and theologians and scholars. Ryan, through your prayers, will belong to that last group. So pray hard!
Along with your prayers, you might also want to give him other necessities. Seminarians, after all, still need to wash clothes, replace broken computers, buy books, etc. Before Ryan left to begin his new journey I asked if there was anything he needed. He answered as he had been told, “No, everything will be provided.” That is what they had told me, too. They lied. Again, I was in a diocesan seminary and he is part of an order, so things might not be quite the same, but when a seminarian in my day ran out of soap, either for his body or for his clothes, the seminary never offered to provide it for him. Same with pens, paper, razors, underwear, toothpaste and so many other things that are truly necessary to have if you plan on remaining in a community. After being in the seminary for a year, Ryan just might have discovered that some things, some gifts, some comforts, just might be valuable gifts to receive after all. Don’t be afraid to ask. At the same time, please don’t assume that he needs anything, either, for “stuff” can quickly weigh a seminarian down. Everything he owns (again, back in my day at least) has to fit in his car and in his 6’ by 10’ room.
Anyway, welcome home, Ryan! We missed you!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
PS For those who are new here, below is the photo I took of Ryan just before he left.