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VINCENNES—Twenty-five seminarians made a pilgrimage on Aug. 12 to Vincennes, Ind., the place where the Church in Indiana began 175 years ago.
That is when the Servant of God Bishop Simon Bruté came to minister in what is now known as the Old Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis Xavier, a church that was built in 1826.
The seminarians, accompanied by archdiocesan vocations director Father Eric Johnson, prayed in the crypt where Bishop Bruté and his first three successors are buried, celebrated Mass in the main church and visited the Old Cathedral Library, which was founded in 1794 and is the state’s first library. Much of Bishop Bruté’s own extensive library is preserved there. (See a photo gallery from this pilgrimage)
Father Johnson said that it was important for the men who are discerning if God is calling them to serve the Church in central and southern Indiana as priests to visit the place where it began.
“It kind of makes the stories that we know and the history that we’re a part of more tangible and concrete,” he said. “We need something that we can touch that helps to make that [history] more real and causes us to reflect a little more deeply on who it is that we are and what it is that we’re called to.”
This was especially true for seminarian Scott Lutgring, a member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood, who is a first-year theology student at Saint Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad. (Related story: New seminarians come from a variety of parishes)
Lutgring had previously been a seminarian for the Lafayette Diocese and had been in formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., where Bishop Bruté had ministered before being appointed the first bishop of Vincennes.
“Being there for two years and seeing the history and the tradition and then coming here, it just seems to me like I’m blessed to go the way Simon Bruté went,” Lutgring said. “I’m following in his footsteps.”
Seminarian Michael Keucher, a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington who is a first-year philosophy student at Saint Meinrad, said Bishop Bruté was an important part of his life of faith.
“Archbishop Daniel [M. Buechlein] has done such a great job focusing our attention on Bishop Bruté and his rightful place in our prayers,” Keucher said. “As a seminarian, I pray to him frequently for his intercession.”
But the seminarians weren’t just focused on the past during the pilgrimage. It was the conclusion of a three-day retreat for them at the start of their academic year. They spent the first two days at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis.
“Being on this retreat with the guys, seeing the bond they have with each other, it seems very natural,” Lutgring said. “I’ve gotten to know the guys. They’re great. It’s been a great first experience in the archdiocese.”
Seminarian Phillip Rahman, a member of St. Boniface Parish in Fulda and a sophomore at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis, spoke about the importance of spending time with his brother seminarians.
“They’re going to be instrumental in my formation,” Rahman said. “The community and love we have for each other will help [us] build each other up.”
(To learn more about the archdiocese’s seminarians, log on to www.HearGodsCall.com.) †