February 19, 2010

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Seminarians, youths and young adults are a blessing for our archdiocese

I have had a lot of contact with our youths and young adults lately, and I am impressed.

Hundreds of our youths and young adults made their way to Washington, D.C., for the Masses and prayers as well as the March for Life that observed the annual anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

These youths and young adults came from our parishes, high schools, and a variety of colleges and universities around Indiana. Some young adults took vacation days from their jobs to be there.

A great deal of sacrifice is involved in making this annual journey. Most of the high school youths, their lay chaperones and some of our young priests ride buses overnight in order to get there. Most sleep on the floor of a gym at The Catholic University of America. And then they are back on the buses the evening of the march for the overnight ride home. This is not easy.

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the eve of the march is packed beyond belief.

Besides thousands of high school youths and their chaperones, young adults and adults, there was an estimated 400 seminarians, an equal number of priests, 40-plus bishops and six cardinals.

The march itself can be taxing because thousands of people are crowded on

Constitution Avenue trying to stay with their group. It takes a good hour before the march gets going. I know because I was there with our youths and young adults.

I can’t tell you how impressive are the positive spirit, patience and sincerity of these fellow Catholics of ours. They are amazing, and a marvelous sign of hope and encouragement for our Church.

Aside from the Masses and the march itself, I spent a lot of time with our young adults.

If you have followed the implementation of our renewed strategic leadership plan, you know that ministry to young adults and campus ministry is one of our priorities.

I won’t go into detail here, but the response of young adults to our new initiatives has been gratifying. Our efforts are worthwhile. Young adults in varying jobs and from college and university campuses have been seeking opportunities to live their Catholic faith, learn more about their faith and to do so with like-minded peers. Their energy and commitment can only strengthen our local Church in central and southern Indiana now and in the future.

At the end of January, I spent a good part of the weekend with our seminarians at the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis. I was invited to lead a recollection for the seminarians. They have this opportunity off and on throughout the academic year. I think I counted 25 seminarians and a couple of guests who are prospective seminarians next fall. Talk about having your spirit lifted!

The seminarians, for the most part, are college-age young adults. They are giving themselves the opportunity to discern whether or not God is calling them to be priests. They are sincere and committed to this goal, and are spirited in its pursuit.

Besides my spiritual reflections, to which they were genuinely attentive, we celebrated Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours in common. On the evening of the first day, there was also an hour of adoration and Benediction.

The next morning, at the conclusion of the recollection, there was another hour of adoration and Benediction. I would ordinarily expect college-age students to be restless and fidgety during an hour of adoration. The seminarians were not.

But don’t get the wrong idea. These are normal guys full of life and spirit, and they have a lot of fun. There is more than enough humor among them, and they get along well.

After the close of the recollection, we went to a local pizza place for lunch. They can put away a lot of food! During lunch, I learned that, after doing some homework, a group of the guys were going rock climbing somewhere on the east side. Once again, I was impressed at the quality of our college seminarians and encouraged for our local Church.

Earlier in February, I was at the seminary at Saint Meinrad for the institution of lectors and acolytes, steps along the way to ordination. If you want to have your spirits lifted, stop by Saint Meinrad some time. Our local Church can look forward to top-notch new priests down the line.

I hope you join me in enthusiastic and grateful prayer for the wonderful blessings God is giving to our archdiocese. We don’t want to take these blessings—our seminarians, youths and young adults—for granted.

And let’s not forget to pray for those who serve these folks generously and faithfully. †

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