Bishop John Barres of Allentown visited the seminary this past weekend to serve as the retreat-master for the annual Lenten Day of Renewal. Bishop Barres, originally from Delaware, was installed as the fourth bishop of Allentown, PA in 2009 after garnering a slue of impressive academic accolades. He opened the Day of Renewal with a conference after Vespers on Friday night. Another conference was held on Saturday morning followed by Mass celebrated by Bishop Barres. Finally, the Day of Renewal was concluded with an afternoon conference. During all of the conferences, Bishop Barres stressed the importance of holiness in the priestly life, especially in developing a daily plan of life. He particularly focused on the necessity to develop knowledge of the scriptures and to place the practice of Lectio Divina in a prime location in the spiritual life of seminarians and priests. The annual Day of Renewal offers the seminarians an opportunity to step back from the regular seminary schedule to set aside a little extra time for prayer and spiritual advancement prior to Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum.
On Mary’s Mountain
The annual celebration of the Festa di San Guiseppe (Feast of St. Joseph) hosted by seminary Vice-Rector of Pastoral Formation, Fr. Ken Brighenti, was held on Saturday evening, March 17. Since St. Joseph’s Day, March 19, fell on a Monday this year, the festivities were held on the evening of the 17th in conjunction with a celebration in honor of St. Patrick. As in previous years, many friends and family of Fr. Brighenti traveled to the seminary from New Jersey and assisted him in hosting the party. In keeping with the tradition of a St. Joseph Table, there was plenty of cheese pizza, St. Joseph pastries, Italian cookies, Reggiano Parmegiano cheese, Italian bread and olive oil, prosciutto di parma, as well as homemade wine. After praying to both St. Patrick and St. Joseph, seminary rector, Msgr. Rohlfs, blessed the food at 6 pm, officially beginning the party. As the evening drew on, the community enjoyed the music on the rec-room patio led by a band composed of Brian McAllister (S’14, Arlington), Matt Capadano (S’14, Omaha), and Corey Krengiel (S’14, Peoria). Everyone had a great time either participating in or watching others in their best attempts at karaoke. Lastly, the party would not have been possible without the generous support of a number of people, most notably Drs. Burkhard, who donated the St. Joseph Pastries, Dr. Frauenhoffer, who donated the cookies, Mr. Louis Falconeri, who donated the bread, cheese, and olive oil, Mr. Mario DeFilippis and Mr. Ciro Maddaluna, who brought their homemade wine, and Ms. Ann Louise Bongiovi and Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Tardiff, who provided the cold cuts and pizza.
John Allen Jr., one of the most well known Vatican correspondents in the English speaking world delivered a lecture at the Mount’s Knott Auditorium on the evening of March 15. Allen, who is the author of numerous books on the Catholic Church, is the senior correspondent for CNN while also appearing frequently on NPR and numerous other news outlets. Allen’s book, The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church, was the basis for his speech in which he described fully four of the ten trends, stressing the implications they will have for the future of the Catholic Church. His speech aimed to encourage priests, seminarians, and lay people to begin developing a greater global understanding of the universal Catholic Church of which American Catholics comprise only a very small part. He also shared numerous stories, both serious and humorous, recounting his experiences from working for years in the Eternal City and accompanying Benedict XVI and John Paul II on their many pastoral journeys around the world. At the conclusion of the lecture, Allen was generous in answering questions for about half an hour.
A group of about 20 seminarians joined Fr. Brian Doerr on March 10th for a day of trail building on St. Mary’s Mountain, at the foot of which rests the seminary and university. Dating back to the times of the Civil War, seminarians have enjoyed hiking to a popular area high on the mountain known as “Indian Lookout” to enjoy a beautiful and prayerful view of the valley below. Unfortunately, up to the present, no true trail has existed to connect the seminary to the lookout. However, shortly after Fr. Brian Doerr’s (Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana) arrival at the seminary this past fall as Vice-Rector of Human Formation, he sought to find a way to formalize this popular hiking trail. Fr. Doerr’s plans for building the trail incorporated a number of goals such as to preserve the historic heritage of the Mountain, to preserve the ecology of the Mountain, to provide a wonderful recreational opportunity for the community, and to provide the men of the seminary with a labor intensive project for physical health and mental sanity. After contracting with Mr. John Bradford, a certified trail builder with the National Forest Service who is also active in ministry to men in the Catholic Church, the seminarians were finally ready to begin their project on Saturday, March 10. After attending Mass at 5 AM, the group put in a full day’s work of clearing trees, collecting trash, putting into place natural steps, etc. Completing the first part of the project by 2 PM, they returned to the seminary excited about the next opportunity to continue their work on the mountain.
On Monday March 5, the Mount community participated at the ground breaking ceremony for a new visitor’s center at the National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes. After raising funds for a number of years, the Grotto staff, which is on the campus of Mount St. Mary’s University marked the ground breaking for their new building with a joyous celebration in which the seminarians participated in full. The grotto chaplain, Fr. Thomas Smith a 1982 graduate of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, began the occasion with a brief prayer of invocation followed by a rousing speech by university president, Thomas H. Powell. Later each of the members of the university’s board of trustees, along with seminary rector Msgr. Steven P. Rohlfs dug up a small piece of earth to initiate the building process. Msgr. Rohlfs even received some assistance from seminarian Eric Bolek (S’ 15, Peoria) in pushing his shovel into the ground. At the conclusion of the ground breaking ceremony, the seminary schola sang a piece for the the pleasure of all present. More information about the future visitor’s center can be found on the Grotto’s website at the following address, http://www.msmary.edu/grotto/visitor_center/.
While many seminarians often travel far and wide during the breaks from school, during each break a number of seminarians choose to stay behind at the seminary during the time off. With about 25 seminarians staying at the seminary, this most recent Spring break (2/27-3/2) was no exception. With most of the seminarians traveling back to their dioceses, perhaps going on a pilgrimage to Rome, or traveling to visit family or friends, the usual busy seminary building is left quiet and peaceful, if only for a short while. During the break, a certain amount of money is offered for those remaining in Emmitsburg, and each night a different seminarian is in charge of providing a home made dinner for the whole group. The family-like environment allows the seminarians to spend more time with each other and develop fraternal bonds which are harder to achieve during the recurrent busyness of the academic year.