Priests and seminarians from an array of dioceses filled Sacred Heart’s beautiful chapel on the evening of Sunday, November 6, for Solemn Vespers and later to enjoy the twenty-second annual Priest-Seminarian Dinner. From Wisconsin to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, there were priests from many places. Following a time of prayer, everyone gathered for an extended evening of fraternity, as well as an exceptional dinner.
Every priest in attendance was personally invited by a seminarian, which provided a striking image of how much these men are configured to Jesus Christ the high priest. They came from many different backgrounds, with a variety of gifts, personalities, and experience over decades. What they had in common was each has truly impacted the life of a seminarian —as a pastor, formator, or spiritual director, but even more so as a real spiritual father.
Indeed, the seminarians were surrounded by those who have been and are currently, as rector Monsignor Lajiness remarked, “'On the front lines.' These are men who have been charged by the eternal Son of God, to go out and save sinners.”
I couldn’t help but reflect on the words of St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians, where he reminded them of the reality that all they had was given to them as a gift. St. Paul addressed them, “What have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?” (1 Cor 4:7).
Many of these priests not only helped us to step out in the Lord to pursue the priesthood, but also were and likely still are, leading us in our own ongoing conversion. It is on these two fronts that we owe them much, for they have truly been faithful priests and fathers. Through them, the Lord God has so graciously ministered His own divine life to us. Indeed, all that the Lord has done in our lives did not simply happen by our own efforts, but so often through their priestly mediation. For their faithful witness, for their spiritual paternity, and for their “yes” to Jesus, we want to honor and thank these many priests whom the Lord has used so profoundly in our lives. They have done immense good to us, and please God, what they have given us will one day bear much fruit in the Lord’s vineyard!