On Saturday the 26th of January, Curtin Martin, the founder and president of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) spoke to the Mount seminarians in a series of talks. Each year, the Mount hosts an outside visitor to offer spring workshops on various areas of pastoral ministry. This year, Martin, who founded FOCUS (www.focus.org) in 1997 spoke to the community on how best to incorporate the New Evangelization into the life of parishes. FOCUS, a highly successful Catholic outreach program on American college campuses seeks to aid students in their growth in the Catholic faith while giving them the appropriate skill set to continue living a Catholic life after college. In addition to his work with FOCUS, Martin has served for the past year as a consultor to the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. As the leader of FOCUS, he has quickly become one of the key figures promoting the new evangelization among the youth and young adults in the United States. During his visit to the Mount, he spoke to the seminarians in two sessions from 9-11 in the morning and 1-2:30 in the afternoon. A wide variety of issues were discussed, and he allowed for a lengthy Q&A session in the afternoon. The main theme of the entire workshop centered on the need to develop greater fervor in the American Church, particularly as the seminarians go out as priests to shepherd the vast flocks in the parishes they will one day serve. Martin’s gracious agreement to speak to the Mount was much appreciated, especially by the many seminarians who previously served as FOCUS missionaries on college campuses as well as those who were actively involved in FOCUS while in college.
On Mary’s Mountain
The Mount community once again traveled en masse to Washington, DC to participate in the 40th annual March for Life on Capitol Hill. The seminarians joined hundreds of thousands who gathered as the largest crowd in four decades to protest the pervasive culture of death. In keeping with the custom of Mount St. Mary’s, a number of seminarians traveled to the nation’s capitol on Thursday night to join in the 34rd annual National Prayer Vigil for Life which began with a Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Boston, Sean Cardinal O’Malley, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The next morning, most of the seminary gathered for a Youth Rally and Mass celebrated by Washington’s archbishop, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, held at the Verizon Center in downtown Washington. After the Mass, the seminarians made their way to the National Mall to partake in the main event. The seminary was blessed this year to be accompanied by the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano visited the seminary this past October. One of the highlights for many in the group was seeing the Papal Nuncio, a native of Italy, embracing a bit of the American culture by donning a Texan style cowboy hat given to him by a group from Nashville, Tennessee. Along with the scores of other marchers, the massive group made their way up Constitution Avenue past the National Capitol before turning south on 1st Street where the March concluded in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building.
During Christmas break, thirty-one fourth year men spent seventeen days in the Holy Land on pilgrimage and retreat along with seminary rector Msgr. Steven Rohlfs, scripture professor Dr. Steven Smith, and Fr. Timothy Whelan, rector of St. Vincent’s Seminary, Latrobe, PA. After departing on December 28, the men traveled to the Pilgerhaus Retreat Center in Galilee which served as their base camp while making day trip to various sites such as Mount Carmel. Next, they had a five day canonical retreat in anticipation of the reception of Holy Orders at the conclusion of the spring semester. Their retreat was led by Fr. Eamon Kelly, L.C. at the Pilgerhaus Retreat Center. At the retreat’s conclusion, the men traveled to Jerusalem, spending the final week of the trip touring the sites of the ancient city so prominent in the history of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The men returned to the United States on January 14, ready to begin their final semester in the seminary. Of the numerous highlights of the pilgrimage, all of the men agreed that the Holy Hour at the Garden of Gethsemane and the boat trip on the Sea of Galilee were among their favorites. The trip marked the second consecutive year the deacon class has had the opportunity to make their canonical retreat in the Holy Land, and walk in the footsteps of Christ Himself.
After a three week Christmas break, the seminarians returned well rested in time for the annual mid-year silent retreat held January 7-11 at the seminary. The retreat master was the Right Reverend Archabbot Lambert Reilly, O.S.B., who served between 1995 to 2004 as the eighth abbot and fifth archabbot of St. Meinrad Archabbey in Southern Indiana. An accomplished scholar and educator, Archabbot Lambert has served as retreat master on countless occasions over the past 40 years. His visit to the Mount marked his third retreat offered to the seminarians on Mary’s Mountain, having previously conducted retreats in 2006 and 2010. Archabbot Lambert held two conferences each day on various topics relevant to seminary life and the seminarian’s future priestly ministry. Aside from the conferences, strict silence was maintained throughout the week with the exception of the daily sacrifice of the Mass and the celebration of Morning and Evening Prayer. The silent nature of the retreat allowed the seminarians to enter into the desert with the Lord. At the conclusion of the retreat, the community welcomed two new seminarians beginning philosophical studies in the pre-theology program from the Dioceses of Wichita and Paterson, while one other man from Wichita was welcomed back to the class of 2nd theology after spending a year away from the seminary.