Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
I was speaking with a seminarian recently about his plan for the next steps in his priestly formation. Conversations such as this are a tremendous source of grace for the priest formation team and me. In each of these conversations, God gives something to the seminarian and to the priest to help both become more like His Son Jesus Christ.
In this particular conversation, the seminarian asked a very honest and candid question: “What if I don’t have all the answers to help the people of God?” This is a great question that comes from an interior place God has formed in the future priest that fuels a desire to care for the people of God. It was clear to me that, in asking the question, the seminarian was displaying humility in his desire to serve and care as a priest. The Lord has already revealed so much of His love to the seminarian—the seminarian is convicted to provide what God has given him to the people he will one day serve as a priest.
The answer I gave has two parts. The first part is the answer the seminarian knew was coming. “You will not have all the answers.” Do any of us have all the answers? The brilliant St. Thomas Aquinas, and each of the holy men and women in the communion of saints, did not have all of the answers during their time on earth, but they knew who did. In the same way, seminarians learn and study the truth of the faith, yet even many years of prayer and study will not give them all of the answers.
In the second part of the answer, I told the seminarian that a priest is not an answer machine. Our faith is not transactional. Some individuals may prefer a quick answer, a transactional relationship with God or His Church, where any question can receive a quick answer so that they can continue on their merry way. Life is more complex. Our life of faith, and all the questions we may have, is a journey into the life of the Gospel and, ultimately, to our heavenly homeland. It is together that we, priest and laity, ask and seek to find (Matthew 7.7). In all questions, Jesus Christ is the answer that we find.
The future priests who pray and study at Sacred Heart Major Seminary will have many answers, they will know the truth, yet they will also be the priests ready to seek and find Jesus Christ along with you in the walk of faith. It would be easy to be transactional, to give an answer and walk away. Your future priests will be men who have the courage to journey with you to seek and find the blessing Our Heavenly Father has in store for you.
No matter the question, taking up the journey together with his brothers and sisters to know, love, and live with Jesus Christ is the ministry of a priest. As we prepare the future priests, deacons and lay ministers of the Church, we are grateful for the journey you have made with the Sacred Heart community.
Your prayers and financial support have been a great blessing to promote the mission of the seminary. Would you prayerfully consider renewing this commitment and making a gift to support your future priests, deacons, and lay ministers?
Thank you for journeying with us as we prepare future leaders to journey in faith with you.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Very Rev. Stephen Burr