August 26, 2005

Archdiocesan seminarians take part
in World Youth Day

By Brandon A. Evans

COLOGNE, Germany—The archdiocese’s 28 seminarians had a special opportunity the past two weeks as they all were able to participate in the archdiocesan pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Cologne.

The seminarians were on the trip for two purposes, said Father Eric Johnson, vocations director for the archdiocese.

One reason was for them to come together as a group, he said. If diocesan priests are to share in a brotherhood, it ought to start when they are in seminary together.

Another reason is for them to stand as examples to all the young people on the trip, especially the young men, as men who are actively discerning God’s will and willing to give their whole lives to him.

For Father Johnson, this trip was his first major duty as the new vocations director for the archdiocese.

“This is the first opportunity I really had to get to know them,” he said of the seminarians. Not only did the trip benefit him in that way, he said it also was inspiriting to see the faith of so many youth.

“I think all the way around it’s been good for me,” Father Johnson said.

Joseph Grady, a seminarian studying at Saint Meinrad School of Theology, said that he hopes the presence of the seminarians made an impact on the young people, and hopes that in the future religious sisters can join the pilgrimage as well.

Grady, a member of St. Anthony Parish in Indianapolis and one of the older seminarians, said that he had the chance to talk to a lot of young people and was amazed at how much more open to Christ they are than he was as a young man. He could also see the seeds of a possible priestly or religious vocation in some of the youths.

“I think the Church is so alive when you see these young people,” he said.

“I just feel the presence of God in me,” said Martin Rodriguez, a seminarian studying at Marian College in Indianapolis.

He was moved when attending a special gathering of thousands of seminarians and priests on Aug. 19 with the Holy Father. He said it was exciting to see so many seminarians from all over the world.

Rodriguez, a member of St. Mary Parish in Indianapolis, said that Pope Benedict XVI spoke of Pope John Paul II and also addressed them in Spanish at one point, saying that as Hispanic seminarians they should offer to God the gold of their freedom, the incense of prayer and the myrrh of their sacrifices.

Greg Mark, a member of St. Luke Parish in Indianapolis and an incoming seminarian studying at Marian College who is living at the Bishop Bruté House of Formation on campus, actually got to shake the pope’s hand during the session on Aug. 19.

It was like all the noise stopped for two seconds, Mark said, and it was just the pope and him.

He said that the pope stressed human and spiritual formation, and told the seminarians to persevere.

The pilgrimage was a great experience and it was good to be able to get to know the other seminarians and take a step toward brotherhood, Mark said.

He was also impressed with the interaction of Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein with the seminarians. He said he could tell how much the archbishop cared for them. †


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