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27 new seminarians @ SJVCS, Miami

Today, we got an email from our Rector at St John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, FL.  This week starts New Student Experience for new incoming seminarians.  There are 27 new guys!  That should put our total house count at 61 seminarians … a nice full house!  I’ll definitely be praying for them, especially for safety on the FIU Ropes Course and patience on their 4 day Silent Retreat next week.  Returning Students are due back next Thursday Aug 21st.

Gesu – Bayside – The Invasion

Gesu Church in downtown MiamiGesu Church in downtown Miami In order to give the returning men room to get settled, the new men took a social trip to downtown Miami via Metro-Rail.

GESU CHURCH — our first stop was 12:05pm Mass at Gesu Church in downtown Miami, the oldest church in the Miami area, established by the Jesuits.  It’s a beautiful church and the Mass was celebrated by Fr Michael & Fr Alvarez & (the pastor) Fr Alvarez.

BaysideDowntown MiamiBAYSIDE — afterwards, we walked to Bayside, had lunch and shopped for most of the afternoon.  We met at the “big tree,” saw the “One Man Band,” and walked by the “Torch of Friendship” that JFK had made with all the Latin American countries (except Cuba was missing?).  — it was hot 
Bayside tree Bayside - One Man Band Bayside - Torch of Friendship 

EVENING — since the returning men were starting their Day of Recollection retreat tonight, we were kindly asked to “leave the seminary” and not to come back before 11pm — nobody argued with that.  Most of us went to the Dolphin Mall to see a movie.  Since most of the movies we were interested in were sold out or at late times, I recommended (probably for the last time) “The Invasion,” an aweful movie choice.  I don’t expect anyone to take my suggestions after that one.  We still had a good time afterwards.  

returning students – book sale

ACADEMIC SESSIONS – (Dr Morgan) — today, we had 3 morning session: (1) Humanities review, (2) Documentation guidelines (for writing papers), and (3) intro to the Theology program.

seminary booksRETURNING STUDENTS — we welcomed the returning seminarians back this afternoon.  I have a roommate (a senior) until they move the Pre-Theology guys (me included) out to nearby off-site housing in October.  In the evening, we did some fun icebreaker activities to get to know everyone, like the “Sound Partner” game.

BOOK SALE — the book sale is (technically) tomorrow morning, but with large number of guys, some of us got a chance to get our books today.  I took a picture of my book for this semester, and there are still some on order. 

Categories: Orientation (NSE)

FIU ropes course

Today, we all spent the day at the FIU Ropes Course to build teamwork.  I would have tried some of the harder ropes activities, but I’m still sore from yesterday’s volleyball.  — It was a great way to affirm our brotherhood.
FIU ropes course FIU ropes course FIU ropes course

I’m here without wireless

I’m finally at the seminary, but they haven’t given us access to wireless internet in our rooms yet, so I’m on the library computer.  I have some pictures of my new “crib” and some posts I’ve been writing on my computer, and I’ll try to upload (and backdate them) when I get settled in.

 Later. 

[update: Sept 10, 2007]  I’m slowly adding posts from the first 2 weeks of orientation, New Student Experience, as I have some free time.  I’ll backdate them so they stay in order.  

my room

Some pics of my room.
dorm room dorm room dorm room closets dorm room sink

“the worst temptation”

Before going to be, I read and meditated on the “Catholic One Year Bible” Passage of the day, which is  Proverbs 21:2 … “We can justify our every deed but God looks at our motives.” 

From a sermon years ago, I remember it said, “the worst temptation in the world is to do the right thing for the wrong reasons.”  I’ve always identified with it and believe it to be true, but when I share the thought, it usually fall on deaf ears with, “that doesn’t make any sense.”  I’m not very good at illustrating the statement, but I think this 2-week “New Student Experience” will help us newbies focus on the real “personal” discernment journey we are beginning toward the priesthood.  Aside from the fellowship, the quiet times help us to focus on the voice that calls our hearts without the distractions of the everyday.   

Our true “motives” should either bring more “joy” (as Fr. Michael said, “rest in the comfort of knowing the Lord is happy you’re responding to his call”) or greater frustration, if our reasons for wanting the priesthood are selfish.  I like it here … I feel at home … as the joy grows, I don’t feel worthy (like I’ve stolen someone else’s place).       

NSE Day 1: Dinner & Icebreakers

Dr. PepperAs we finished Mass and stood in line for dinner, I noticed THEY HAVE DR. PEPPER!!!    — God is good & wants me here! 

Dinner with parents was followed by “see-you-laters” as we got to know each other better (questionable J ) with some crowd-breaker activities, including “Crazy Screaming Ninjas” & “Screaming Stares?” & “Embarrassing Introductions.”  An informal “social” added to the fellowship. Finally, the day ended with Evening Prayer, call “Compline” (from Liturgy of the Hours) in the small chapel.  Fr. Michael closed with (I paraphrase), “Rest in the comfort of knowing the Lord is happy you’re responding to his call.”     I’m tired and taking that to bed … tomorrow will be an eye-opener (since it hasn’t really hit me yet)

NSE Day 1: Arriving & Opening Mass

Today begins the first day of seminary for a 2 week long “New Student Experience” (NSE) before classes begin on August 27.  I finally arrived with my parents after 3pm. I’m upstairs rooming with a senior (not here until Aug 23 for returning student).  It’s only temporary, because there are a record 65 seminarians this semester, and 2 off-campus homes (nearby) will hold the Pre-Theologians (that’s me) in a few weeks (while they’re getting setup).

—— 

The Mass, celebrated by Fr. Michael Carruthers (Rector – in charge), focused on St. John Vianney, the patron saint of diocesan priests, and who the seminary was named after. St. John VianneyThe homily began with a story (that I’m trying to recall correctly) of a wise man who asked his students, “How do you know night has ended and daylight has begun?  Some incorrect student answers included, “When you can tell the difference between an oak tree & a willow tree.”  Another said, “When you can tell the difference between a dog & a wolf.”  After all failed in their great efforts, the wise man said, “You know night has ended and daylight has begun when you can see everyone as a brother or sister.”  (the veil of darkness is replaced by true sight)  … That is what we are all called to. 

The homily continued with St.John Vianney’s background.  He was a French seminarian that had difficulties learning Latin (he may have had a learning disability) but became a priest due to his great devotion.  He had difficult pastoral assignments, but always saw people as a brother or sister.  He was known as such a good confessor that he would take confessions for most of the day. 

EUREKA!  The areas of the priesthood that I currently hold most dear is the merciful and healing grace of Reconciliation.  I knew about St. John’s background, but his gift of confessor didn’t hit me til today.  I think that’s a good sign.

A cool fact about the property! … the exact geographical center of the property is the Tabernacle … just as the Eucharist is the center of our lives.  that’s the heart of everything!