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Lenten Visits Bring Blessings

by Matthew Wagner

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The seminarians of Sacred Heart have a unique opportunity each Lenten season to make pilgrimages to Station Churches across the Archdiocese of Detroit. This custom of Lenten pilgrimage extends back to the early Church in Rome, when worshippers would process to the many parishes throughout the city during the forty days of Lent.

This year, the men visited three parishes on various Lenten Sundays, celebrating Mass with the people of St. Stephen Byzantine Catholic Parish and St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Allen Park, and St. Andrew Parish in Rochester. For the seminarians, what would normally be a regular Sunday at the seminary celebrating Mass as a community is instead an opportunity for the men to attend Masses at the various parish communities throughout the archdiocese.

With eleven dioceses and two religious communities sending their men for studies at Sacred Heart, many of the men in formation are unfamiliar familiar with much of the archdiocese. Diocese of Fargo seminarian Christopher Finneman (College II) expressed how the station church Sunday Masses have brought to him blessings this year.

Visiting the different parishes for Mass on Sunday has only made my positive experience of Detroit more concrete. So, too, after studying for months and hearing about the New Evangelization, to be able to go out to the people and to pray with them, talk with them, and be with them is something that a lot of us look forward to.

We receive life when we're giving our own lives away.

For others, the blessings of Sundays at a regular parish come in the form of simple hospitality. Biak Thuantho, College II seminarian for the Diocese of Kalamazoo, notes, It was great to visit the various parishes and see the hospitality of the pastor, the parishioners, and the whole community. They always make us feel so welcome!

Typically after Mass, the parishes will host the seminarians for coffee, donuts, and fellowship. It's one of my favorite parts, said Theology III, Diocese of Winona seminarian Brian Mulligan. Simply talking with the people of God after Mass is a huge blessing. It gives us a preview of what it's like to be a parish priest, having Mass, donut Sunday . . . all of the typical parish activities a priest takes part in.

Whether it is through the hospitality, the experience of celebrating the Eucharist with a parish community, or simply exploring the city and surrounding suburbs of Detroit, celebrating Mass at the Lenten station churches has proven to be a continual blessing for the Sacred Heart seminarian community.

Matthew Wagner

Matthew Wagner is a second-year theology seminarian for the Diocese of Winona.

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.